Rescuers spot climber believed dead on Mount Rainier, 2 others airlifted to Madigan

A Mount Rainier search crew spotted a climber who is presumed dead Monday afternoon but was unable to reach the mountaineer, park spokeswoman Patti Wold said.

Rescuers saw the climber from the air moments before airlifting a second climber and a snowshoer to Madigan Army Medical Center, Wold said. The first climber did not respond to rescuers. Weather conditions kept rescuers from reaching the climber but they will try again Tuesday, Wold said.

The climbers and snowshoer were caught in a storm on the mountain on Saturday night. The climber presumed dead is a 58-year-old man from Norway. He may have died of hypothermia near Gibraltar Ledges, according to Wold.

The man’s climbing partner and a snowshoer were in stable condition at Camp Muir at 10,188 feet above sea level before they were airlifted off the mountain.

The Saturday night storm brought single-digit temperatures and strong winds. Search crews encountered similar conditions Sunday. An earlier rescue attempt by a Chinook CH47 from Joint Base Lewis-McChord with two climbing rangers was turned back by extreme weather on Sunday.

While conditions were improving Monday, the risk of avalanche was listed as considerable by the Northwest Avalanche Center.

The two climbers left Paradise on Thursday to attempt to reach the summit via Gibraltar Ledges. They spent Friday night at Camp Muir, according to their permits. Saturday night, other climbers reported unattended overnight gear in the Camp Muir area. The park started the search Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, searchers found a 41-year-old Canadian woman descending from the ledges. She was assisted back to the Camp Muir public shelter.

Gibraltar Ledges is the standard winter route for climbers attempting the summit. It’s also the route used by the first known people to climb the 14,411-foot peak.

In a separate incident, a 26-year-old man from Lacey reached Camp Muir on Sunday. The snowshoer’s locator beacon signaled throughout Saturday evening as he hiked through the storm. A statement from the park said he was “ambulatory with some frostbite.”

Groups assisting with the operations include Seattle, Olympic, Tacoma and Everett mountain rescues, the park’s volunteer Nordic patrol, US Army Reserve B Company of the 1-214th Air Battalion and Northwest Helicopters.