A group of six, missing mountain climbers have been presumed dead after falling 3,300 feet down Mount Rainier, Washington. Mount Rainier National Park officials stated that there are currently no plans to recover the bodies due to the condition of the terrain.
Patricia Wold, a park spokesperson said that the last known location of the group was 12,800 feet on Liberty Ridge, on Wednesday evening around 6:00 p.m. The climbers had sent out distress signals from an area that ice and snow were continuously falling. A search crew had seen camping and climbing equipment at Carbon Glacier, an area that is prone to avalanches. A helicopter crew was able to confirm the location of the gear, however they were not able to locate members of the group.
Wold stated that the missing Mount Rainier climbers consisted of two Alpine Ascents International guides and four clients. The group had begun their climb on Monday and were scheduled to return on Friday. The climbers were expected to reach the Mount Rainier’s summit on Thursday and spend the following day climbing down. They were reported missing late Friday afternoon around 4:30 p.m.
A search was conducted for the climbers on the northwest part of the mountain near Liberty Ridge, their last known location. On Saturday three climbing rangers and a Hughes helicopter as well as an Army Chinook helicopter set out in search for the missing group. Both ground and air searches had been suspended later that afternoon due to the dangers posed by the falling ice and rocks. Fawn Bauer, a park ranger stated that persisting in the search would expose the rangers to harsh conditions and getting on the ground would be a nearly impossible task. Although the search was halted, the ground crews said that they had checked all of the potential areas that the climbers may have used as shelter from the storm.
Alpine Ascents International Director of Operations, Gary Harrington, confirmed that the guide leading the group was Matt Hageman, but has not revealed the identity of the second guide. He said that both guides had worked for the company for over five years and were experienced. They had led groups up the mountain over 50 times prior to this incident. Harrington stated that this time of year is most ideal for climbing Mount Rainier due to the fact that there is still snow on its peak. He further stated that when there is no snow, that means climbers are climbing on dangerous, loose rock.
On Saturday, another member of the group was identified by a family member. Mark Mahaney, 26, was from St. Paul, Minnesota. He had previously climbed Mount Rainier but wanted to try a different route. According to his uncle, Rob Mahaney, 53, a family member had expressed concern to Mark regarding his climb but he responded by saying that nothing would be able to stop him from it.
There have not been reports of any upcoming searches for the missing Mount Rainier climbers as officials believe that it is likely the group had taken a deadly fall. Mount Rainier is one of the world’s largest, active volcanoes and is the tallest peak in the entire Cascade Range. It currently stands at a height of 14,410 feet.
By Sarah Temori