Liberty Ridge Search Comes to Tragic Conclusion
Contact: Patti Wold, Information Officer, 360-569-6701
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 for six missing climbers today. 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.
The area the avalanche beacons were detected on the Carbon Glacier is extremely dangerous due to continuous rock and ice fall. At this point there are no plans to put people on the ground at the site because of the ongoing hazards. 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.
"This 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" stated Superintendent Randy King. "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 party, consisting of two skilled climbing guides and four clients, began their climb on Monday, May 26, and was due out on Friday, May 30th. Alpine Ascents last spoke with their guides on Wednesday at 6:00 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 pm on Friday, May 30th, when they failed to return to the trailhead as expected.
A ground search of the Liberty Ridge route and the Bergschrund was conducted by a team of three Mount Rainier National Park climbing rangers. The US Army Reserve 214th Air Division out of Joint Base Lewis McChord and Northwest Helicopters conducted the air search working with park rangers.
Did You Know?
Carbon Glacier, on the north side of Mount Rainier, comes to the lowest elevation of any glacier in the lower 48 states at 3500 feet. It is also Mount Rainier's thickest glacier, one section being nearly 700 feet thick.