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Contact: Patti Wold, PIO, 360-569-6701
Wednesday, March 30, 2016 — Winds and weather cooperated this afternoon for a successful recovery off the south flank of Mount Rainier. Attempts earlier in the week were suspended due to high and erratic winds on the upper mountain preventing safe operations. A ground crew of four rangers climbed to the unresponsive individual at 10,600 feet on the Gibraltar Ledges route where they worked with the crew of a Hughes 530F out of Northwest Helicopters to accomplish the mission.
TEMPORARY ROUTE CLOSURE LIFTED: The temporary closure of the Gibraltar Ledges Route is now lifted.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner will determine the final identification and report on the cause of the climber's condition. He was found where alpinist Monique Richard, 41 of Canada, described last seeing her climbing partner Arvid Lathi, 58 of Norway, in the area of the Gibraltar Ledges route.
"Despite the tragic events it is always a good reminder to know the weather forecast before any climb and come prepared for any and all weather conditions. Sunny weather at the start of your trip may deteriorate quickly." stated Peter Ellis, Mount Rainier National Park Climbing Ranger.
The climbing party of two left Paradise on Thursday, March 24, for the summit via Gibraltar Ledges. They overnighted at Camp Muir on Friday night and began their climb on Saturday morning, March 26. Private parties at Camp Muir reported overnight gear left there all day when no one returned to use it Saturday night. The park initiated search operations Sunday morning. That afternoon Richard was seen descending from the Gibraltar Ledges route to Camp Muir. Several individuals assisted her to the public shelter at Camp Muir. On Monday, March 28, she was airlifted to a local hospital.
An unresponsive climber was located in the area of the ledges by air reconnaissance on Monday, March 28. On the climbing team's descent from the summit on Saturday, March 26, they were caught out overnight in a winter storm, causing them to take shelter from extreme wind, blowing snow, and frigid temperatures on the lee side of a ridge. During this time it is believed that Lathi may have succumbed to exposure.
Members of Seattle, Olympic, Tacoma, and Everett mountain rescues, volunteer Nordic Patrol, US Army Reserve B Company of the 1-214th Air Battalion and Northwest Helicopters assisted Mount Rainier National Park personnel throughout this incident.