The bodies of three climbers killed back in May by a likely avalanche on Mount Rainier have been recovered by park rangers.
Mount Rainier National Park officials say the recovery mission was successfully completed Tuesday on a debris field on the Carbon Glacier below Liberty Ridge. This is the same location the search for six missing climbers was focused on earlier this year. While the bodies are believed to be members of that party, the Pierce County Medical Examiner will provide final identification, a park release said.
The bodies were spotted August 7 during a training flight in the area.
"Recent warm weather melted some of the ice and snow in the debris field, exposing the three," the release said. "Park staff, working with personnel from Northwest Helicopters, developed a plan to mitigate the risk involved in extricating the bodies from this highly dangerous location. Rock and ice fall off Willis Wall, and an increase in new crevasses in Carbon Glacier below, combine to make this one of the most hazardous locations in the park. The operation consisted of Northwest Helicopters MD-530 using a remote controlled Heli-Tech grabber device mounted from a 100-foot-long line. Eight park rangers participated in the planning and execution of the operation."
No evidence of the three other climbers in the group was spotted. The six were feared dead from a fall of more than 3,000 feet while 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 four days later.
The group's guide had checked in with the company on May 28 by satellite phone. At the time, the party was at 12,800 feet with plans to overnight. Alpine Ascents reported the party missing two days later.