Search teams spent Saturday scouring a snowy campsite at Mount Rainier for the body of a fourth climber after the second and third bodies were recovered Friday.
The climbers, two parties of two, have been presumed dead since a series of winter storms at the beginning of the year.
Mark Vucich, a 37-year-old resident of Agoura Hills, Calif., and Michelle Trojanowski, 30 of Atlanta, were reported missing Jan. 15 after they failed to return from a planned snow camping trip on the Muir Snowfield.
The next day, climbers Sork “Eric” Yang of Springfield, Ore., and Seol Hee Jin of South Korea, both 52, were reported missing after attempting to reach the summit.
Vucich’s body was found in August. One of the bodies recovered Friday was that of a woman, a spokesman for Mount Rainier said. The other was a man’s.
Both were taken by ambulance to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office for autopsies and identification, which could be released Sunday.
The four last were seen by a climber who reported they were heading up the mountain as he descended it with the storms approaching. Yang and Jin were in the lead, followed by Vucich and Trojanowski, on a separate rope but following the same track.
“We have suspected that as things turned ugly up there they might have joined forces, and now we’re certain that was the case,” park spokesman Kevin Bacher told The Associated Press.
On Thursday, a crew bringing supplies to Camp Muir by helicopter spotted a body hanging over the edge of a large crevasse on Paradise Glacier southeast of Anvil Rock, as well as supplies from several people strewn across the bottom of the crevasse.
The body was partly buried under about 5 feet of snow, about a quarter-mile east of the standard climbing route across the ridge at an elevation of 8,200 feet. Visitors had not seen the body earlier because it was over a ridge, Bacher said.
Climbing rangers retrieved the woman’s body from the crevasse Friday with the help of a helicopter from Denali National Park in Alaska. The rangers also recovered a man’s body found nearby under the snow.
On Saturday, about a dozen people searched the area both on foot and by air. They were looking at a large campsite buried under the snow, on the edge of the crevasse.
Using hand probes, shovels, metal detectors, a search dog and a helicopter, about a dozen people tried to find the fourth climber but had no success.
The searchers didn’t find much, Bacher said.
“They’ve found some more camping equipment,” he said Saturday evening. “They’ve explored as much as they feel that they can, and we have a rain squall that just moved in here.”
Bacher said because of deteriorating weather conditions, the search will continue over the next few days only during scheduled flights, or when crews already are in the area.
If anyone in the area spots items that could be associated with the climbers, park officials urge them to report it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.