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Massive search underway for missing hiker attempting Mountaineer's Route on Mount Whitney

Massive search underway for missing hiker attempting Mountaineer's Route on Mount Whitney
Bum "John" Lee, 68, of Redlands was reported missing after attempting to climb the Mountaineer's Route on Mt. Whitney. (Inyo County Sheriff's Office)

A massive search was underway Friday for a Redlands man who disappeared after attempting to scale the popular Mountaineer's Route on the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, authorities said.

Bum "John" Lee, 68, has been missing since Tuesday when he was last seen climbing the steep route above Iceberg Lake in Mount Whitney, according to the Inyo County Sheriff's Office.

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On Thursday, the California Air National Guard and a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol in Apple Valley searched the mountainside but couldn't find Lee.

Search and rescue teams from Southern California and Inyo, Placer and Marin counties on Friday scaled rugged terrain in the Mt. Russell area, Iceberg Lake and Arctic Lakes basin for any signs of Lee.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the trail is usually snow-free by July but still has many natural hazards, including high altitude, steep terrain and high winds. On a warm day, an experienced hiker could scale the Mountaineer's Route in a day, according to the climbing website SummitPost.

Anyone with information about Lee's whereabouts is urged to call the sheriff's office at (760) 878-0383.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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