Air France pilot dies climbing Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park

California officials said a hiker tragically died in Sequoia National Park while climbing Mt. Whitney earlier this week.

Air France pilot Tom Gerbier was reported missing when he did not show up for his return flight on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The French national began his hike on the Mountaineering Route early Tuesday morning, beginning at Whitney Portal.


Inyo County Sheriff's Office launched both flyover and ground operations to search for Gerbier. 

When officials on the ground began to summit the Mountaineering Route, they said they found "clues" indicating that the hiker may have fallen off a cliff in the area known as "The Notch."


In this area, officials said the helicopter found a motionless hiker wearing clothing matching the description provided. He was located at the bottom of a 1,000-foot drop.

Gerbier's death marks the second fatality for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks this year. The two parks, which lie side-by-side in the southern Sierra Nevada in Central California, see nearly 2 million visitors from across the world each year, according to park officials.

The parks are home to the world's largest trees (by volume), deep canyons and high mountain peaks that attract hikers from all over.