We now know more about what happened on Mount Shasta in the moments before an oakland man died.
A joint statement released by Mark Thomas and the family of Thomas Bennett said the two men dug a snow cave for shelter and had the necessary gear to spend the night. But, Bennett said, his friend's health deteriorated as they broke camp Sunday.
Within minutes, Bennett reported "an inability to see well and could barely stand or put on his crampons," the statement read.
It wasn't easy for Thomas to leave his friend but he knew he had done all he could and had no choice if he wanted to survive.
"If I'd stayed with him any longer," Thomas told the Chronicle, "I would likely be up there with him."
The climbers tried to descend the 14,126-foot peak but Bennett could no longer walk, so they went back to the cave, where Bennett fell unconscious and stopped breathing. The statement said Thomas tried to resuscitate Bennett and started down the mountain only after he was sure there was nothing more he could do for his friend.
Rescue workers retrieved the Bennett's body Thursday. They found the cave based on the description and a map that Bennett used to show them where the two had stopped.
Bennett and Thomas, both 26 and both experienced climbers left the Bay Area last Thursday to climb Mount Shasta. Thomas was rescued Monday at about the 7,000-foot level.
Thomas speculates that Bennett died from severe high altitude sickness. An autopsy will determine the exact cause of his death.