An autopsy is scheduled for Monday in Inyo County on Thomas Heng, the 31-year-old San Rafael man whose body was found near Mount Langley in the Inyo National Forest.
Heng and a few others spent the weekend hiking up White Mountain Peak in Mono County on Saturday, camped over night and then headed to Mt. Langley on Sunday. Danny Cain, one of Heng's hiking companions, reported Heng missing on Monday after he failed to return to their meeting spot.
Cain dropped off Heng and two other hikers at the trail head early Sunday morning. Heng's companions took a different trail and reached the summit of Mt. Langley before him, Cain said.
His companions decided to head back due to stormy weather as Heng continued on to the summit. He was last seen in an area about 13,000 feet up on the 14,023-foot Mt. Langley, according to National Park Service spokeswoman Dana Dierkes.
One member of the hiking party who reached the summit was the last to see Heng, at around 1 p.m. Sunday, Dierkes said.
The unidentified hiker was on his way down and Heng was 1,042 feet from reaching the top, according to Dierkes. Heng made it and signed the visitors' book at the peak, she said.
"We waited for him until dark on Sunday, but we didn't panic yet because there was a nearby camp site," Cain said. However, no one at the campsite or in nearby Lone Pine, Calif. had seen Heng.
"That's when we knew it was serious and reported it to the sheriff," Cain said.
Search and Rescue teams with the Inyo County Sheriff's Office found Heng's body Wednesday afternoon in the Old Army Pass area of the John Muir Wilderness area of the Inyo National Forest, one of several possible routes to Mt. Langley, Dierkes said.
Deputy Jeff Mullenhour, an investigator with the Southern Region of the Inyo County coroner's office, said Heng's body was found 300 feet from a ledge around 5 p.m.
Heng's Facebook page depicts him as an outdoors enthusiast, who enjoyed snowboarding and scaled peaks all over California and the world, including Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Aconcagua in Argentina and eight of California's "Fourteener" peaks (peaks that exceed 14,000 feet above sea level).
In his meetup profile, Heng described himself as "a very outdoorsy person" who "is never home on weekends."
A San Francisco native, Heng moved with his wife, Petra, to San Rafael a few months ago.
"He was very ambitious and always talked about how he wanted to climb all the California Fourteeners," said Cain, who went to Yosemite and hiked in Marin with Heng and Petra.
Heng was co-leader of the Bay Area Anything Active hiking group, and was an inspiration to those he led on hikes, his friend Christopher Isar said in an email.
"There are a lot of people mourning his loss right now. We love him," Isar said.
"I started this hiking group in April; Tom and I became close friends very quickly," Isar said.
Isar said he and Heng climbed Mt. Shasta earlier this month and spoke almost daily online or in person.
Heng hosted "amazing hikes all over California," Isar said.
"We started to meet in San Francisco weekly for dinner after work. His wife came along on some hikes and we all love her too and our thoughts are with her as well," Isar said.
"She is a loving wife, she cared so deeply for Tom. He was a loving husband to her. I miss him more than words can say," Isar said.
"Petra, his wife, tells me her and her family want to be alone right now, so I have been dealing with the many questions from our online community," Isar said.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.