Official: 6 climbers likely died in mountain fall

2014-06-01 21:20
(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seattle - Six climbers on Mount Rainier likely fell thousands of feet to their deaths in what would be among the worst alpine accidents ever on the iconic Washington state mountain.

A helicopter crew on Saturday spotted camping and climbing gear in the avalanche-prone area. It is believed the group fell 1 000m from their last known whereabouts of 3 900m on Liberty Ridge, Mount Rainier National Park spokesperson Patricia Wold said in a statement.

"There's not a viable chance of survival," park Ranger Fawn Bauer told The Associated Press.

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

"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.

The loss of life would be among the deadliest climbing accidents ever on the peak in the Cascade mountain range. In 1981, 11 people were killed during a guided climb when they were struck by a massive ice fall on the Ingraham Glacier.

On Oregon's Mount Hood seven students from a college preparatory school in Portland and two adults died after they dug a snow cave during a sudden storm in 1986.

Mount Rainier, southeast of Seattle, stands at 4 392m and attracts thousands of climbers trying to reach its summit every year.

It is popular with climbers of all abilities, from novices who take guided climbs to experienced alpinists who use the glacier-laden peak to train for attempted ascents on taller mountains in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges.

Before this most recent accident the park service says 89 people have died trying to climb Mount Rainier since 1897.

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 on 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 programmes, Gordon Janow, said he wasn't ready to release information about the climbers.

In a statement from the park, the guides were described as skilled. In a blog post on the Alpine Ascents website on Thursday, the post said the team had turned around at 3 962m during their attempt to reach the summit because of weather conditions.

Wold said the Liberty Ridge route the group were attempting is one of the more technical and advanced on Mount Rainier.

- AP
Read more on:    us
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Dewani Trial
 

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Entries are open, so what are you waiting for?

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
LOL! The 8 stages of marathon running

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.