Search Under Way Tuesday For Missing Climber In Mount Rainier National Park

A search was under way Tuesday for a missing climber on the Liberty Ridge section of Mount Rainier. The climb goes up the narrow ridge in the middle of the photo. Photo via www.summitpost.org

Winds gusting to 55 miles per hour hampered a search at Mount Rainier National Park for a 50-year-old Washington man felled by illness high on the mountain on one of its most technical approaches, Liberty Ridge.

A search by helicopter Tuesday morning for Rob Plankers, of Olympia, failed to detect any sign of him on the steep, icy ridgeline, according to a park news release. However, searchers did spot a 2,000-foot slide path leading "down a 50-degree ice- and snow-covered slope over some of the steepest, most inhospitable terrain on the mountain."

Ground searchers did locate some of Mr. Plankers' equipment at the point he was last seen, according to the release.

The climber’s situation was reported Monday at 5 p.m. by his climbing partners. Following the report, two teams of climbing rangers attempted to reach the man, whose illness was not disclosed. At 12,100 feet, one of the teams was forced to turn back due to extreme winds of 55 mph. The second team overnighted in a snow cave until the search resumed at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Liberty Ridge is one of the most technical climbs on 14,410-foot Mount Rainier.