Washington’s Mount Rainier is an imposing geological formation that draws thousands of mountaineers from all across the country every year. Despite its popularity, the 14,410 foot mountain has seen a number of climbers become stranded over the years. Sadly, among those who have lost their way, fatalities due to avalanche or exposure are not uncommon.
In late May 2014, six climbers were reported missing at a high elevation on the mountain, at which time Mount Rainier park rangers responded.
Reported missing were two guides and four clients of Seattle based Alpine Ascents International. The group planned to spend several days climbing the mountain, but were reported missing by company officials after they had not checked in as scheduled.
The last reported contact from the group came on Wednesday, May 28 at about 6:00 PM when the group called park rangers to notify them that they had reached an elevation of 12,800 feet.
After being notified by Alpine Ascents that the group had gone missing, park rangers initiated a search which included sending a group of skilled rangers climbing on the same path that the missing mountaineers had taken. The rangers were accompanied by a helicopter spotter. Park rangers feared that the climbers may have been overwhelmed by a small storm that hit the mountain on Wednesday, and may have encountered fatal conditions.
Mount Rainier is popular among climbers, with approximately 10,000 people attempting the climb annually. The mountain has seen its share of grizzly group deaths over the years, including a group of four people that died of hypothermia in a winter storm on the mountain in 2012. In 1981 an avalanche on the mound killed 11 climbers in one of the worst mountaineering accidents in U.S. history.