Three bodies found on Mt. Rainier may be those of missing climbers

3 bodies found on Mt. Rainier may belong to climbers who were among six killed in May accident

Bodies of three people who may have been among six climbers killed in a fall on Mt. Rainier in late May were discovered last week, officials with the National Park Service said Tuesday.

The May victims, two experienced guides and four of their clients, disappeared while ascending the Liberty Ridge route, one of the most dangerous paths up the mountain.

Park officials have said the victims probably fell to their deaths from a height of more than 3,000 feet.

Patti Wold, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, told the Los Angeles Times the three bodies were found last week during an aerial search of Carbon Glacier. Though rescue crews were unable to identify the gender or ages of the victims, Wold said their bodies came to rest in the area where parks officials had been searching for the missing climbers.

The area is too dangerous for park officials to search on foot, according to Wold, who said the terrain sits under the Willis Wall, which tends to break apart and drop rock and ice onto the area where the three bodies were found.

“We’re trying to figure out if there’s a safe way to get in there so we can remove the remains and try to give their family some closure,” she said.

Wold described the collapse that presumably killed the six climbers as an avalanche.

Among the presumed victims was Matt Hegeman, a climbing expert who had scaled Rainier more than 50 times. The incident remains one of the deadliest in Mt. Rainier's history.

All told, seven people have died on the mountain this year, Wold said. In June, 70-year-old hiker and outdoor journalist Karen Sykes was found dead on a trail, three days after she went missing.

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