Family members of six climbers presumed dead on Mount Rainier met privately Sunday with park officials. The victims are two professional guides with Seattle-based Alpine Ascents and four clients. They were attempting to summit via the north-facing Liberty Ridge – one of the most technical and advanced routes on the 14,000-foot mountain. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.
The lost climbers are thought to have fallen 3,300 feet in an area that’s known for regular rock and ice fall. Mount Rainier National Park officials say there was no viable chance of survival. Search crews found signs of climbing gear and picked up avalanche beacon signals. But park spokeswoman Patti Wold says to try to recover the bodies at this point would be too dangerous.
Wold: “Basically we’re moving into a continued, limited search and over the weeks and months to come when we have flights in the park we’ll be flying that area, if we have rangers on the ridge trying to get visuals down there, see if we can spot any of these climbers.”
If a body is spotted, then they’ll make an assessment. Any recovery would happen using a helicopter. Wold says specially trained park staff are working with the families of the victims. This stands as the worst climbing accident on Mount Rainier in more than 30 years. It was June of 1981 when 11 climbers were killed in an ice fall.
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