Obituary: Heavenly Area Patroller Dies in Climbing Incident

Dr. Gary S. Dankworth, 60, a patroller and Toboggan Instructor Trainer at Heavenly Area in California and Nevada died in an incident after summiting 13,855-foot Norman Clyde peak in the Sierras.

An official from the Carson Tahoe Medical Center confirmed the news, saying, “The Carson Tahoe family is saddened by the news of Dr. Dankworth’s death. The past several days have been difficult and we, like the rest of the community, have been hoping for the best. We are a small, close knit community and tragedies within our medical staff affect us all. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and we will do all we can to support them during this very sad time.”

Dr. Dankworth reportedly camped with friends on Saturday afternoon, 29 July 2012, at Finger Lake in the John Muir Wilderness of Inyo National Forest. He had been planning a solo summit of Norman Clyde, which is a difficult climb in the Palisades section of the Sierra Nevada range. When he didn’t return by Sunday, a search began a little after 1pm local time.

A body was found in the area where Dr. Dankworth was climbing on Wednesday evening, 1 August. It appears he successfully made the Norman Clyde peak ascent, because his signature was found at the top. A large amount of Dankworth’s essential gear was reportedly found before the discovery of his body. An interview with hikers in the area on Saturday uncovered one report of a climber repelling in the night with a headlamp on Saturday.

Dankworth was the son of a hall of fame University of Nevada track and field coach, Dick Dankworth. Dr. Dankworth attended Reno High School, where he set the record in pole vaulting during his time there. He was also the first Nevadan to pole vault over 17 feet, reaching 17’1.5″ when he was in college.

The Inyo County Sheriff is currently planning the recovery mission. Dankworth, 60, was a family physician practicing out of his office in Carson City, with admitting privileges at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. He was a 1977 graduate of the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine.

Associated Press Report