Melting snow on Mount Rainier has revealed a man's body at an elevation of about 8,000 feet, leading park officials to wonder if it might be of one of four climbers lost during a storm back in January.
The body was spotted on Monday by a party coming down the mountain from Camp Muir. It was seen about a half-mile above Pebble Creek, and appeared to have been under the snow for some time.
Four climbers were reported missing on the mountain in January. Searchers spent a week looking for them, but were hampered by a series of potent storms that dropped feet of snow.
Thirty-seven-year-old Mark Vucich, of San Diego, and 30-year-old Michelle Trojanowski, of Atlanta, Georgia, had planned to winter camp on the Muir Snowfield on the weekend of January 14-15, with a return on Sunday, Jan. 15, according to park officials.
A second party of two climbers, Sork (Erik) Yang, 52, of Springfield, Oregon, and Seol Hee Jin, 52, from Korea, on a summit attempt via the Disappointment Cleaver route was due back Monday, January 16th, officials added.
At the time, park officials figured the parties had simply "dug in" to get out of the storms and await better weather.
Mount Rainier rangers on Tuesday brought the man's body down off the mountain. His identity will be determined by the Pierce County Medical Examiner. No other evidence or bodies were found in the search area.
Park officials say warm weather is expected to continue rapidly melting snow in the area over the next month or two, which may uncover evidence related to the missing climbers. The search for the four missing climbers is still active and ongoing on a limited basis. Searches are conducted during scheduled flights in the park and as crews are in the area. The park is interested in hearing from anybody that sees any items that may be associated with the missing climbers.