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Missing Hiker Found Deceased on Flanks of Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park


A 73-year-old hiker missing on Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park since earlier this week was found dead Saturday, park officials said.

The body of Kenneth Wade Brunette was found shortly before 1 p.m. Pacific Coast time by a dog team on the eastern slope of the 14,494-foot mountain.

The search for Mr. Brunette began on Tuesday after he failed to return from a day hike to the summit of Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. Search efforts were complicated by extremely windy, cold conditions during the early part of the week, park officials said. The cause of the man's death is under investigation.

Approximately 100 people, including dog teams and ground searchers, and four helicopters, participated in the search.


Mr. Brunette's spirit hikes on! He's just begun the real journey.

He was where he wanted to be and doing what he wanted to do. At 73, most people have come to terms with their mortality and realize that every day should be lived like it is a gift.

Being in all probability, blown off a mountain 1500' to your death is not exactly a life affirming inspiration. this man was warned of the danger he faced, and the approaching weather. i salute anyone who chooses to do as they please being where they choose, but this accident caused a hundred others to put themselves in danger for his safety. imagine the possible triumphs this man could have achieved if he had sought the expertise of the men and women who searched for him if he had asked for their help before going it alone.

This shouldnt have happened......the main problem is hiking alone.....this also put the 100 searchers in danger with the winds and cold temps.....Mr Brunette died doing what he loved.....only soo many of us will be that I tell everyone else....enjoy life, but if you do something stupid, make sure it hurts or kills you one thoughts go to his family who have to deal with the aftermath.......

A lot of unnecessary anger and bitterness here, folks. I hope I have the stamina and ability at 73 to go where Mr. Brunette was going. He obviously wasn't a rookie and he obviously had a love for the mountains. I'd much rather have my time come in such a setting, as opposed to crossing the street and being run over.

As for those search-and-rescue teams that went in search, that's their job, and they do it with the hope they can save someone's life or lead someone to safety, and with full understanding that they could be putting themselves in harm's way.

I say raise a glass in honor of Mr. Brunette's spirit and determination, and in thanks for the SAR crews ready to go out at a moment's notice. (And a donation to your local SAR organization wouldn't hurt, either...)

Well said Kurt.

As a long-standing member of another California SAR team, we always have the option of whether or not we respond to a SAR op, but we're never forced. I make that conscious choice every time the pager goes off...and take into consideration many factors...just like many other SAR members from other groups. If a SAR field member is "risking his own life" for someone else, that's his/her choice. Some of us hear a higher calling...and that's just what we do.

I too salute Mr. Brunette, and all of the others who have reached older adult-hood and continue to hike, climb, mountain bike, etc. and not just roll over.

replying to you ANONYMOUS:: Let us not be so judgemental, do you have any facts or realize he was a husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle etc. He has had many triumphs throughout his life, not only be being a Dr. saving lives, but by experiencing life to its fullest. How do you know Wade was warned of dangers?? Everyone is grateful to the people and animals whom searched for him. Why did you keep yourself anonymous?

Never quit moving - and never stop having adventures. I had a dear friend who died while windsurfing in big waves on Maui. He was 72. He knew he was taking chances, but he was doing something he loved. Indications are that he probably had a stroke and drowned in the turbulent water. Another windsurfer happened to see his body and tried to pull him onto his board and revive him. Lifeguards were notified and went out to retrieve him from the surf. Had he stayed on shore and simply watched others sail he probably would be alive today. Those who tried to help would not have put themselves in harms way. Was he wrong to go into challenging conditions? I guess that depends on your point of view. His wife misses him terribly, but she said that he went the way he would have picked if given the choice. The people who knew him agreed. He is missed but not mourned.

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