Six Climbers Dead on Mt. Rainier After 3,000-Foot Fall | 2 Guides & 4 Clients

Miles Clark |
Rainier is a beast.
Rainier is a beast.

Two guides from Alpine Ascents International and their four clients are missing on 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier in Washington State today.  They reportedly fell 3,000 vertical feel down a steep rockfall on the challenging Liberty Ridge route.  They were reported missing by Alpine Ascents International on Friday at 4:30pm.

“There is no viable way they could have survived,” said Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patricia Wold. 

Wall where the climbers fell.  photo:  NPS
Wall where the climbers fell. photo: NPS

The climbers last known location was at 12,800 feet on the mountain.  Emergency crews have detected pings form the climbers’ emergency beacons that put their location around 9,000 feet on Rainier.

It is currently not possible to recover the bodies of these climbers due to rockfall danger.

Liberty Ridge Route.  Mt. Rainier, WA.
Liberty Ridge Route. Mt. Rainier, WA.

The climbers reportedly ran into bad weather at about 12,800 feet on the famous and challenging Liberty Ridge on Wednesday.  The climbers made a satellite phone call at 6pm on Wednesday reporting their location to be 12,800 feet.  They stated that they planned to descend to 12,000 feet.

Liberty Ridge.  Mt. Rainier, WA
Liberty Ridge. Mt. Rainier, WA

Rescuers began their search for the group on Saturday via helicopter.  They received pings from all 6 climbers’ emergency beacons, but detected no activity.  All the bodies are located at the 9,000 foot level at the base of a large rock wall.

Climbing Liberty Ridge.  Mt. Rainier, WA
Climbing Liberty Ridge. Mt. Rainier, WA

It appears they fell 3,000 vertical feet down the rockfall and they are presumed to be dead. The search was called off for today.

These climbers began their ascent of Rainier on Monday and were scheduled to summit on Thursday and exit the mountain on Friday.

14,411-foot Mt. Rainier
14,411-foot Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier averages two mountaineering deaths per year.  About 10,000 people try to climb 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier each year.  About half make the summit.  Guided clients have a much better percentage of reaching the summit than do independent climbers.  Liberty Ridge is one of the most technically advanced climbs on Rainier and considered one of North America’s 50 most classic climbs.

Rainer and Seattle, WA
Rainer and Seattle, WA

It is very sad to lose anyone on a mountain and our hearts go out to the family and friends of all the deceased.  It’s especially tough for this to happen to guides and their clients.  This is an absolutely devastating loss.

Mt. Rainier towers of Pudget Sound, WA
Mt. Rainier towers of Pudget Sound, WA


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