Rangers at Mount Rainier National Park have been working to find a 22-year-old Washington man who was swept down the mountain by an avalanche.
Kirk Reiser, of Lynnwood, Washington, and a friend, 23-year-old Troy Metcalf, also of Lynnwood, left Paradise on Tuesday morning for a snowshoe hike up to Camp Muir on Rainier's flanks. The two turned back due to heavy snow, high winds, and poor visibility.
According to rangers, about 1:30 Tuesday afternoon Mr. Reiser was leading the way back down toward Paradise when he triggered an avalanche and was swept down the slope. Mr. Metcalf said he saw his friend disappear into the snow. After searching unsuccessfully for several hours, Mr. Metcalf returned to Paradise at dusk and reported the incident to a ranger.
Search efforts began at first light Wednesday morning, with six rangers in the field led by Stefan Lofgren, and several more helping with logistics and operations at the Emergency Operations Center. The field operations were assisted by eight members of the Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle Mountain Rescue Units, and two employees from Crystal Mountain Ski Area with avalanche search dogs.
Aided by Mr. Metcalf, the searchers returned to the location of the avalanche, at the top of the Edith Creek basin about a mile out of Paradise; however, despite several attempts, high avalanche danger and poor visibility hindered their efforts to search further.
Based on the current weather forecast, Thursday's search will likely be limited, as weather and avalanche conditions are not expected to be significantly improved. Weather permitting, the search will resume in force on Friday.