More hikers rescued following Sierra storm

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - Two climbers who were stranded and spent the night on Yosemite National Park's El Capitan following an early winter storm were rescued Friday, park officials said.

"Everyone is fine. They're tired, they're hungry, they're cold but they're happy to be alive," said park spokeswoman Ray Santos.

Also Friday, the last remaining hiker missing since the storm hit was found walking along a mountain pass in Kings Canyon National Park, said park spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet.

He was identified as Robert Marek, who has homes in Tucson, Ariz. and Alaska.

"We had a helicopter searching from the trailhead that his car was parked at and they saw tracks on Baxter Pass, above 12,000 feet," Picavet said. "Our ground team was already on that trail walking up to the pass and they met up with him. He was hiking out, happy as can be, maybe a tiny bit surprised that we were looking for him."

Picavet said he was reported overdue when he failed to return as planned on Oct. 19.

Authorities also located a hiker Thursday in the eastern Sierra after friends reported him overdue from a weeklong trip. Doug Jastrab, 52, of Mammoth Lakes, left on Oct. 14 and didn't return by Wednesday as planned, Mono County sheriff's spokeswoman Shannon Kendall said.

A sheriff's search and rescue helicopter spotted him unharmed Thursday at Iva Bell Hot Springs, a popular backpacking destination in the John Muir Wilderness area.

Also on Thursday, rescue teams pulled two other climbers off the mountain, along with the bodies of a Japanese couple who were caught on "The Nose" of El Capitan when the storm struck.

There were no remaining stranded hikers or climbers in the park as of Friday, Santos said.

The two climbers rescued Friday initially turned down a request for help. Santos said they were eventually hoisted off the 3,200-foot monolith. The two men's names were unavailable.

Officials also hadn't released the names of the dead climbers.

Santos said their bodies had been sent to the Mariposa County Coroner's Office for autopsies. The Japanese Consulate in San Francisco said Friday it was unable to confirm the pair were Japanese citizens.

Since Wednesday, authorities have rescued at least 19 hikers and climbers who got stranded in the unexpected storm on the western slopes of the Sierra. None was seriously injured.


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