INDEPENDENCE, Calif. (AP) — Two climbers reported missing this week on California’s towering Mount Whitney have been found dead, officials said Thursday.

A friend who had been with the climbers called authorities Tuesday night after they failed to arrive as planned at their campsite, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The friend said the pair had planned to ski or snowboard from the “notch,” a flat area where climbers often stop to rest, down to their camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake.

A helicopter crew and teams on the slopes launched a search.

“Tragically, both hikers were later discovered deceased,” the sheriff’s statement said. Their identities were not immediately released.

Because the bodies were within neighboring Tulare County, the case is being handled by that county’s sheriff-coroner’s office.

Located in the central Sierra Nevada with a summit reaching 14,500 feet (4,420 meters), Mount Whitney is the highest point in the U.S. outside Alaska.