Mount Rainier National Park staff said on Wednesday they have recovered the bodies of three climbers believed killed in a late-May fall from Liberty Ridge, on the mountain’s north side. Identification is pending by the Pierce County Medical Examiner.
A total of six climbers were lost in Rainier’s worst climbing accident since the early 1980s. No bodies were previously recovered. These remains were found in what park officials describe as a “highly dangerous location” threatened by falling rock and icefall from Willis Wall and an increase in new crevasses on Carbon Glacier.
The bodies were spotted Aug. 7 during a training flight in the area, according to park spokeswoman Patricia Wold. Recent warm weather melted some of the ice and snow in the glacier’s debris field, exposing the three bodies. Park staff, working with personnel from Northwest Helicopters in an MD-530 helicopter, minimized risk to rescuers by using a remote-controlled Heli-Tech grabber, a clawlike device suspended from a 100-foot line. Eight park rangers participated in the Tuesday operation.
Rangers saw no evidence of additional remains.