Coroner: Remains spotted on Mt. Whitney are those of missing hiker

Search for missing Mt. Whitney hiker
Ground crews search near Mirror Lake for 60-year-old John Likely. His remains were found Friday on Mt. Whitney.
(Inyo County Sheriff’s Office )

Remains found on Mt. Whitney are those of a 60-year-old hiker who has been missing since June 14, authorities said Monday.

John Likely of Dumont, N.J., died from “multiple traumatic injuries” after he fell about 50 feet into a steep chute, said Jeff Mullenhour, deputy coroner investigator for Inyo County’s southern region. 

His body was found near Mirror Lake. Authorities believe Likely saw the lake and tried to take a more direct route to his destination -- Outpost Camp -- before falling. 

An aerial crew spotted the chute, located at 11,450 feet. Likely’s body was found Friday, away from the Mt. Whitney Trail that would have taken roughly 10 minutes to walk, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Carma Roper wrote in an email.


Crews spent nearly a week searching for Likely in the steep, rugged terrain after he didn’t reach Outpost Camp, where two friends were waiting. The hiking enthusiast slowed  his pace as his friends continued their descent.

The other two hikers used binoculars to watch Likely maneuver his way through the 99-switchback section of the trail equipped with cable rails, then decided to wait for Likely at Outpost Camp. When Likely didn’t show, the friends searched for him into the morning of June 15 before alerting authorities. 

The multi-agency effort of ground and aerial crews, numbering nearly 100 people, spent five days searching for Likely.

Likely had hiked Mt. Whitney five times previously and had spent the last 30 years tackling trails with his two friends. His friends told authorities that it wasn’t uncommon for Likely to move at a slower pace when hiking. 


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