Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
This photo provided by the National Parks Service, shows the Liberty Ridge Area of Mount Rainier as viewed from the Carbon Glacier, Saturday, May 31, 2014, in Washington state. Six climbers missing on Mount Rainier are presumed dead after helicopters detected pings from emergency beacons buried in the snow thousands of feet below their last known location, a national park official said Saturday. (AP Photo/National Park Service)
Official: 6 climbers likely died in mountain fall
First Published May 31 2014 10:03 pm • Last Updated May 31 2014 10:03 pm

Seattle • Six climbers on Mount Rainier likely perished in a fall after helicopters detected pings from avalanche beacons and spotted climbing gear thousands of feet below the group’s last known location, national park officials said Saturday.

Searchers believe the group fell 3,300 feet from their last known whereabouts of 12,800 feet on Wednesday, park spokeswoman Patricia Wold said in a statement. The helicopter crew spotted camping and climbing gear in the avalanche-prone area, park Ranger Fawn Bauer told The Associated Press.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"There’s not a viable chance of survival," Bauer said.

Air and ground searches were suspended late Saturday afternoon. The danger of falling rock and ice in the area where searchers picked up the pings prevents a ground recovery effort, Wold said.

"It would expose our rangers to pretty extreme conditions," Bauer said. "And, in all honesty, we may never be able to get on the ground there."

Aircraft will survey the area periodically in the coming weeks and months, Wold said, but the possibility of recovering the six is uncertain.

The missing group includes four clients of Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International and two guides. They were due to return from the mountain on Friday. When they did not return, the climbing company notified park officials, Bauer said.

Officials have yet to finish family notifications, so the names of the climbers are unlikely to be released until Sunday.

"The climbing community is a small one and a close one and a loss of this magnitude touches many," Superintendent Randy King said in the statement.

Mount Rainier, southeast of Seattle, stands at 14,410 feet and attracts thousands of climbers trying to reach its summit every year.


story continues below
story continues below

The search for the missing climbers focused on the northwest shoulder of the mountain at the Liberty Ridge area, near where they were last heard from, Bauer said. Saturday’s search included a team of three climbing rangers on the ground and flyovers with a Hughes helicopter. An Army Chinook helicopter then joined the search from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The group was scheduled to reach the summit of Mount Rainier on Thursday, with a day to climb down.

Snow flurries and hail hit the mountain Wednesday, Bauer said, but the weather has been clear since then.

Bauer said ground crews on Saturday checked "every possible area" where someone could have sought refuge in the storm.

Alpine Ascents’ director of programs, Gordon Janow, said he wasn’t ready to release information about the climbers. Details — such as ages, gender or hometowns — for the climbers were not immediately available, Bauer said.

In a statement from the park, the guides were described as skilled.

In a blog post on the Alpine Ascents website Thursday, the post said the team had turned around at 13,000 feet during their attempt to reach the summit because of weather conditions. The blog post said all team members were well.

———

DuBois reported from Portland, Oregon.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.