Six climbers are feared dead from a fall of more than 3,000 feet at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, where they were on a route that took them along one of the more technical approaches to the summit.
The six, four clients and two guides from Alpine Ascents International, began their climb on Monday, May 26, and were due out Friday, park officials reported. "Alpine Ascents last spoke with the guides on Wednesday at 6 pm by satellite phone. At that time the party was at 12,800 feet with plans to overnight. Alpine Ascents reported the party missing at 4:30 p.m. on Friday," said park spokeswoman Patti Wold.
Saturday evening the searchers "located climbing gear and detected signals from avalanche beacons at the top of the Carbon Glacier at 9,500 feet in elevation during an extensive search," she said in a release. "All indications point toward a fall of 3,300 feet from near the party's last known location at 12,800 feet on Liberty Ridge. There is no viable chance of survival from such a fall. The Liberty Ridge route is one of the more technical and advanced routes on the mountain."
Park officials decided against sending searchers to the location where the avalanche beacons were detected due to continuous rock and ice fall.
"In the weeks and months to come the site will be checked periodically by aircraft. As snow melts and conditions change potential opportunities for a helicopter-based recovery will continue to be evaluated. There is no certainty that recovery is possible given the location," said Ms. Wold.
Mount Rainier Superintendent Randy King said the "accident represents a horrific loss for our guide partners and the families and loved ones of every one of the climbers lost on the mountain. 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.'
The names of the climbers were not immediately released.