2 climbers found dead after summiting Mt. Whitney via treacherous route

Two climbers who were reported missing on Mt. Whitney's experts-only Mountaineer's Route on Tuesday have been found dead.

Andrew Niziol, 28, of South Lake Tahoe, and Patty Bolan, 29, were identified by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, according to the Sacramento Bee.

On Wednesday, a friend who had been climbing with them but got separated on an extremely steep, icy pitch just beneath the summit posted a plea for help from other climbers in a Facebook group devoted to Mt. Whitney — the highest point in the United States outside Alaska.

The friend, Ethan Michael Cannaert, wrote that the trio were descending after reaching the 14,500-foot summit. He described what Niziol and Bolan had been wearing and noted that they were "both experienced in the backcountry and had adequate gear for the climb."

After getting separated from the pair, he had expected to run into the them at "the notch," a small, flat spot in the route where climbers often stop to rest — and breathe a deep sigh of relief — after descending a breathtakingly vertical stretch of the mountain known as "the final 400."

Read more: Mt. Whitney: A perilous trek to the top of California's record snowpack

"I waited there for over an hour and was forced to move down the chute to escape the cold wind, but never saw them," Cannaert wrote.

He noted that Niziol and Bolan both had cell service most of the way up the route, but that they had not responded to messages he sent after becoming separated.

Climbing down the final 400 in snowy conditions usually requires ropes, crampons and ice axes because a fall on slippery terrain that steep would be almost impossible to stop.

A falling climber who missed the notch on the way down might hurtle thousands of feet down a terrifyingly steep face.

Details are still scarce on where, exactly, Niziol's and Bolan's bodies were found. The Bee reported they were discovered at an elevation of 13,200 feet on the north side of the mountain. That's nearly a thousand feet lower than the notch.

On Thursday, Cannaert updated his post to say that "Patty and Andrew were found deceased on the mountain by [search and rescue] this morning."

A post on Niziol's Instagram feed last week showed him and Bolan climbing and snowboarding on the flanks of Mt. Shasta in perfect spring snow under glorious blue skies.

"This is the kind of living I've dreamed about for 15 years," Niziol wrote. "I've finally surrounded myself with people to share these types of experiences with and I couldn't be more thankful."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.