Air France Pilot Found Dead Two Days After Hiking Up California’s Tallest Mountain

Published 10/21/2023, 1:00 PM EDT

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Hiking is not a hobby without its fair share of risks. Any activity in the wild needs to be treated with respect and caution, and so it goes with hiking. While scaling the highest peaks known to man is undoubtedly a rush that’s worth venturing out far, it cannot be taken lightly. Even when caution is exercised appropriately, the outcome of the situation is never completely in one’s control.

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Such was the case with a recent tragic incident as an Air France pilot died after crashing into a cliff during a climb on Mount Whitney. The fate of his tragic demise was set in motion when he set out on an 8.8-mile hike down the second most popular path to Whitney peak.

Pilot goes missing while hiking

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Tom Gerbier did not show up for duty on Wednesday, which sounded alarm bells about his whereabouts. Once Gerbier went missing, authorities were alerted and the search was on. While aerial searches proved to be of no use, rescuers descended closer to the mountaineering route. As they arrived closer to the summit, “they noticed clues that a hiker may have fallen off a cliff.” In due time, a National Park Service helicopter arrived in the area and found Gerbier’s body. They matched the body to the missing man with clothing matching his description.

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Gerbier’s body was recovered early on a Thursday morning at the bottom of a cliff. The body was first spotted in an area known as the Notch with rescuers speculating that he had fallen about 1,000 feet. Gerbier had set out for his hike on a Tuesday. He picked an 8.8-mile out-and-back to scale up Mt. Whitney. While the climb up the mountain’s east side was steep, with highly technical terrain, it was the second-most popular path up the mountain.

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Still, the route is considered rather perilous compared to the main route. It takes hikers through a steep and narrow gully that’s prone to rock slides. Besides, the last leg to the top requires more scrambling than hiking.

Statements after Gerbier’s Death

On Thursday evening, Gerbier’s body was retrieved by helicopter and identified by authorities. “This marks the 2nd fatality for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks this year,” according to the National Park Service. The statement added that the rescue was possible only thanks to the collaboration “of Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Inyo Search and Rescue Team, and the climbing community.”

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Air France put out a statement expressing regret over the death of Tom Gerbier with details regarding the incident that led to his demise. In the statement, Air France said it “regrets to confirm the accidental death of one of its pilots, which occurred on October 20th, 2023 while he was on a stopover in Los Angeles (California). The company offers its most sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”

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Written by:

Kenneth Soares

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Kenneth Soares is a WWE writer EssentiallySports with a penchant for all things sports. He has previously worked in world news, with a focus on US events and geopolitical stories. Kenneth's favorite superstars include Edge, Rey Mysterio and AEW star MJF.
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Edited by:

Arnima Shukla

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