Two ground teams battled 40 mph winds and white out conditions this morning as they navigated the area between Paradise and Camp Muir in search of the two overdue parties. The severe conditions forced searchers to withdraw from the field. They remain on standby to return to the search upon the first sign of improved conditions.
A helicopter and pilots from Joint Base Lewis McChord were not cleared to fly until later in the morning due to the ice storm that hit Western Washington. Once cleared of the icy condition, the limited visibility on the mountain was not favorable for a flight. They remain on standby to assist in the search.
There are two teams of overdue parties currently on the mountain. A party of two, Mark Vucich, 37 of San Diego, CA and Michelle Trojanowski, 30, of Atlanta, GA, planning to winter camp on the Muir Snowfield over the weekend was due out on Sunday, January 15. A second party of two climbers, Sork (Erik) Yang, 52, of Springfield, OR, and Jin Seol Hee, from Korea, on a summit attempt via the Disappointment Cleaver route was due back Monday, January 16 th . Due to weather conditions it is expected that they are waiting out the weather before attempting to descend to Paradise. Visitors to the upper mountain are advised to stop moving, dig in and wait for better weather during severe weather and white out conditions.
Park staff and searchers remain optimistic that both parties will be found alive. They are equipped for winter camping and carried extra food.
The weather forecast calls for snow, temperatures in the teens and twenties, and high winds through at least Monday. For more information on weather conditions visit the park weather webpage http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/weather.htm . For a look at current conditions at Paradise visit the Webcam webpage http://www.nps.gov/mora/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm . Note that the Camp Muir webcam is not maintained in winter.