U.S.

6 Missing Mount Rainier Climbers Presumed Dead: Authorities

Local officials say six climbers missing on Washington's Mount Rainier are believed to be dead after falling more than 3,000 feet.

6 Missing Mount Rainier Climbers Presumed Dead: Authorities
The Seattle Times / Bettina Hansen
SMS

Officials say six climbers missing on Washington's Mount Rainier since Wednesday are now believed to be dead.

The Seattle Times cites rangers from the National Park Service, who say the six climbers were likely killed after falling more than 3,000 feet from the mountain's steep northern slope, Liberty Peak. 

Using helicopters, searcher crews found tents and clothes mixed in with ice and rock debris along Carbon Glacier — 9,500 feet up the mountain and 3,300 feet below the group's last known location. (Via KOMO)

PATTI WOLD, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: "It's inconceivable that somebody could have survived a fall like that." (via KONG)

Officials say all signs point to an avalanche as the cause of the suspected fall.

Liberty Peak is one of the most challenging and dangerous areas of Mount Rainier because of the angle of the slope and it's proneness to slides. Climbs in June also pose the risk of collapsing ice ledges as the warming temperatures rapidly melt areas of the slope. (Via NWCN)

KIRO reported the names of two of the six climbers believed to be involved: Matt Hegeman, the climbers' tour guide, and Mark Mahaney, an experienced climber from Minnesota. 

According to his online bio, Hegeman is an tour guide for Alpine Ascents with a ton of experience on Mount Rainier, climbing the mountain more than 50 times on four separate routes.

The names of the four other climbers were not released pending notification of their families. Officials say the tragic incident is the worst disaster on the popular mountain in more than 30 years.