Print

Print


Avalanche Hits Mt. Rainier Climbers
Rescuers Try To Reach Man Left Dangling in Crevasse

By HUNTER T. GEORGE
.c The Associated Press

LONGMIRE, Wash. (June 11) - As many as 12 climbers were swept away in an
avalanche Thursday on <A HREF="http://www.nps.gov/mora/mora.htm">Mount Rainier
</A>, with some left dangling from ropes.

Six people were injured and six others escaped unharmed.

Five of the injured were rescued quickly and rescuers were trying to reach the
other - a man still hanging by a rope off an icy cliff called Disappointment
Cleaver.

Of the five rescued, one woman and one man each suffered a broken hand, one
man broke a leg and two women suffered hypothermia, Mount Rainier National
Park spokeswoman Maria Gillett said.

The man still dangling off the cliff was conscious and moving, Gillett said.

Medical teams were treating the injured at the scene. Rescue helicopters were
waiting for a break in the clouds to land and take them out.

The snow slide hit two climbing teams - each roped together and containing
five or six people, said Dave Uberuaga, another park spokesman.

Members of one climbing party used ice picks to stop their slide and were not
hurt. The other party was swept off the edge of the nose of Disappointment
Cleaver, at an elevation between 11,000 and 12,000 feet, on the southeast side
of the snowcapped peak.

They were apparently on their way down from the 14,410-foot summit.

Warm spring weather likely caused the avalanche, authorities said.
Temperatures have recently gone as high as the upper 70s and lower 80s.

A climber from a party that was not in danger used his cellular telephone to
report the avalanche, said Donna Rahier, a spokeswoman for Mount Rainier
National Park.

Disappointment Cleaver is a big rock that splits two of the major glaciers on
the mountain.

''It's called that because it's usually the spot where most people who can't
make it to the top of the mountain turn back,'' said Gus Bush, operations
leader for Tacoma Mountain Rescue, which was sending a dozen volunteer
rescuers to the mountain.

The worst climbing accident on Mount Rainier was June 21, 1981, when 11 people
on a guided climb died in a massive icefall at 11,000 feet.

Mount Rainier is about 50 miles southeast of Seattle.