On Mount Rainier last week, six climbers fell thousands of feet from an area of the mountain called Liberty Ridge. Now park officials are saying that they are all likely dead and conditions are too dangerous to recover the bodies, according to Fox News.
Liberty Ridge is a remote and dangerous combination of snow, ice, and rock. It comprises the northern face of Mount Rainier in Washington State and is not considered an easy route for climbers.
This part of the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier has seen at least 26 deaths, including this tragic accident, according to National Geographic.
It was decided that a recovery team could not enter this part of Mount Rainier to bring the bodies back. Falling rock and ice in an area already prone to avalanche activity has made it extremely unsafe for recovery efforts to occur.
Mount Rainier National Park spokesperson Patti Wold sympathized with the loved ones of the lost on Sunday. “The families, I’m sure, would like that closure,” she said.
Wold explained that the area will be checked by air repeatedly in the coming weeks as conditions change on Mount Rainier. Recovery via helicopter will be evaluated in the future.
It is believed that the two guides and four climbers may have fallen over 3,000 feet to their deaths. It is unknown how the accident occurred or whether an avalanche or rock fall may have buried the climbers.
There is a possibility that the bodies will never be recovered. There have been other accidents on Mount Rainier in which the victims of those accidents were not able to be safely recovered.
For the past 33 years, Mount Rainier has seen its share of accidents, but this was by far the worst in recent years. In 1981, 11 lives were lost when people were hit by a huge ice fall.
The climbing group was last heard from on Wednesday evening, according to Fox News. The group’s guides had contacted their Seattle-based company by satellite phone. The group was supposed to have returned from their climbing adventure on Friday.
Families of the climbers gathered together at Mount Rainier National Park’s headquarters on Sunday to speak with park officials. Wold described the families as “devastated.”
Initially the spokesperson for the park said that the names of the dead would be released on Sunday, but this statement was rescinded. The park at Mount Rainier cannot release the names of the victims due to privacy reasons.