Speed Reads

This is terrible

Mount Rainier fall claims lives of 6 climbers

AP Photo/National Park Service

Two guides and four clients are presumed dead following the discovery of a debris field along Mount Rainier's Carbon Glacier on Saturday, The Seattle Times reported.

Alpine Ascents International, a Seattle-based company, contacted the Park Service when its climbing group did not return on Friday, as planned. The six climbers had set out for an ascent early last week, but they were last heard from on Wednesday. Searchers discovered tents and clothes mixed into rock and ice, leading officials to believe the group suffered a 3,300-foot fall along a steep northern slope. The tragedy is the worst on Mount Rainier in more than 30 years; the last climbing disaster to claim so many lives was on June 21, 1981, when an avalanche swept away 11 climbers on Ingraham Glacier.

"The climbing community is a small one and a close one," Randy King, superintendent of Mount Rainer National Park, said in a statement. "A loss of this magnitude touches many. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragic accident."

Search crews are combing the area for the climbers, but officials said the technical nature of the area may make recovery of the bodies impossible.