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Contact: Patti Wold, PIO, 360-569-6701
The search for two overdue parties continues on Mount Rainier. On Sunday, January 22, a small improvement in the week's severe weather allowed ground teams to conduct visual searches of terrain previously obscured by weather. A US Arm Reserve Chinook launched but turned back due to limited visibility. the helicopter remains on standby at Joint Base Lewis McChord. No sign of the missing parties has been detected to date. The search effort will continue on Monday, dpendent on weather and avalanche conditions. In the event a weather window materializes on Monday, the Chinook and a Washington State Patrol fixed-wing are prepared to respond.
Over the last week ground teams have encountered 30-60+ mph winds, white out conditions, ice crusted snow, and snow depths 10 to 15' with drifts up to 50'. Searchers are highly skilled mountaineers who are familiar with the party's intended route and in mitigating avalanche danger in the area.
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 (Eric) Yang, 52, of Springfield, OR, and Seol Hee Jin, 52, from Korea, on a summit attempt via the Disappointment Cleaver route was due back Monday January 16th.
The weather forecast calls for snow, 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures and winds up to 65 mph through Monday. Mount Rainier and Denali climbing rangers, personnel from the National Park Service Pacific West, Intermountain and Alaskan regions, guides from Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated and International Mountain Guides, and Olympic, Tacoma, Everett, and Seattle Mountain Rescue are contributing to search operations.