Four mountain climbers and two guides escorting them to the summit of Mt. Rainier were presumed dead after searchers found a trail of scattered equipment on Saturday, authorities said.
Gary Harrington, operations director for Alpine Ascents International, which was leading the expedition, told the Los Angeles Times that families of the six were traveling from around the country to Seattle on Saturday night. Authorities did not immediately release the climbers’ names, but a family member identified one of them as Mark Mahaney, a 26-year-old from St. Paul, Minn.
The company told reporters that the lead guide with the group was Matt Hegeman, who was also a regular on Mt. Shasta in Northern California.
Rescuers flew over the glaciers of Mt. Rainier National Park on Saturday morning and early afternoon looking for the climbing group, which was last heard from 6 p.m. Wednesday by satellite phone.
The searchers could see camping and climbing gear on Carbon Glacier about 9,500 feet up the 14,400-foot mountain, the fifth-tallest mountain in the Lower 48. As they got closer, authorities picked up pings from emergency avalanche beacons apparently buried in the snow. By late afternoon, park officials said that they believed there was no chance of survival because “all indications point toward a fall of 3,300 feet from near the party’s last known location.”
“This incident represents a horrific loss for our guide partners and the families and loved ones of every one of the climbers lost on the mountain,” park Supt. Randy King said in a statement. “The climbing community is a small one and a close one, and a loss of this magnitude touches many. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragic accident.”
Mahaney had reached the summit of Mt. Rainier before, but this time around, he was trying a new route — the Liberty Ridge route, one of the toughest and deadliest ways up the mountain.
“Nothing will be easy on this climb,” he wrote on his Facebook page last month.
SOURCE: PARESH DAVE
The Los Angeles Times