68-Year-Old Missing Hiker Found Dead On Mount Whitney

A 68-year-old man who was reported missing last week has been found dead in Sequoia National Park.

The L.A. Times reports that on July 18, a hiking group bound for Mount Whitney left the Whitney Portal, but stopped about a half-mile from the top of the mountain. They spent the night near the near the top of Whitney-Russell Pass because they were "concerned about their safety."

The following morning, John Lee realized the route to the mountain was too difficult for the group to continue on, and left alone in search of a safe path for the group to descend, according to the National Parks Service.

The Fresno Bee writes that the group waited for Lee to return, but after he failed to show up for "several hours," they assumed he was waiting down at the parking lot and they too hiked back down to their cars. According to KTLA, the group didn't reach their cars until about 10 p.m. on Tuesday. The Times notes that his friends in the group saw his backpack abandoned on a granite ledge.

The Inyo County Sheriff's Office, and several other agencies formed a search party of nearly 100 people, and spent five days looking for Lee. On Sunday, his body was found via helicopter at the base of Mt. Whitney's southwest slope at about 12,500 feet elevation, according to a statement from the Sheriff's Office.

Lee's cause of his death remains under investigation.

Here's a shot from the search and rescue team from Sunday: