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Two Climbers Killed By Rockfall in Sierra Nevada

The women were climbing the North Couloir on Red Slate Mountain

The Mono County Sheriff’s Office released this photograph of a recovery on Red Slate Mountain

Jennifer Shedden, 34, of Mammoth Lakes, and Michelle Xue, 22, of Los Angeles, were killed in a rockfall accident while climbing the North Couloir on Red Slate Mountain earlier this week.

Friends reported the two women were overdue and Mono County Search and Rescue sent a team along with a helicopter from the the California Highway Patrol. The women were found midway up a steep couloir at 3,700 metres on Monday. “Based on observations from both teams, their positioning and lack of response they were presumed deceased.”

The recovery efforts were delayed until Tuesday due to conditions. A National Guard helicopter airlifted a team to the base of the couloir. Three rescuers climbed up the couloir to Shedden and Xue, who were still attached to their anchor.

“The climbing team faced active rock fall from the terrain above, discharging rocks and material into the couloir,” according to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office. “It appeared that the women, though very prepared and well-equipped were struck by large rock fall event.

The team determined they couldn’t lower the women and called for a helicopter to respond on Wednesday morning. The Yosemite Search and Rescue helicopter extracted the women, who were taken to the Mammoth Airport.

“The Mono County Sheriff’s Office holds Jennifer, Michelle and their families and friends in our hearts and thoughts during this difficult time.” Shedden worked as an associate engineer for the town of Mammoth Lakes. Xue was a Bay Area native and an experienced climber.

The North Couloir on Red Slate Mountain is a popular climb and ski objective.

Red Slate Mountain’s North Couloir