2 Dead, 3 Injured in Separate Mount Rainier Accidents
Thursday, June 6, 2002
(Updated Saturday, June 8, 2002)
Assembled from news reports and first hand ranger accounts.
Two climbers are dead and three are injured after two separate accidents
occur on Washington's Mount Rainier. This comes 8 days after three
other mountaineers lost their lives and one more was injured on the
According to the National Park Service, two male climbers reached the
summit of Mount Rainier sometime early Thursday morning, but apparently
fell to their deaths while descending the icy slopes. In an
unrelated incident later that day, members of a roped, three-person
climbing party were injured after falling into a crevasse. The
party consisted of a 50-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman from New
Hampshire, who were to be married on the summit, and their minister/guide.
Weather conditions on the massive mountain were less than ideal. High
winds gusts and cold temperatures likely contributed to poor footing, which
may have helped cause the accidents. Though it may never be known how
the first group of mountaineers was killed, the second accident occurred
when one of the three climbers fell after a gust of wind.
Of the two deceased persons, one was a man from Tigard, Oregon, a suburb of
Portland. The other man hailed from Big Flats, New York.
Climbing rangers Kessler and Charlton first came across the pair at 5:00 pm
Wednesday evening at Ingraham Flats (11,100 feet). The rangers did not
approach them at that time, as the climbers were inside their tent and had
been contacted the previous day at Camp Muir.
At approximately 9:00 pm, the same rangers, descending from the summit,
encountered the ascending climbers near 13,000 feet. Ranger Kessler
initiated a short conversation regarding route information and the
inhospitable conditions on the mountain's summit. However, according
to Kessler, the climbers seemed to be prepared for the tasks ahead and
concurred that they would only stay on the summit for a few minutes before
beginning their descent. This was the last time that the climbers
were seen alive.
Mount Rainier climbing rangers initiated a search late Thursday after the
climbers had not returned to their camp. Their bodies were spotted
from the air near 5:30 pm Thursday afternoon and later recovered.
In the unrelated accident where three people fell into a crevasse, climbing
rangers and guides from Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) extricated the
injured climbing party from the glacier. The couple, hoping to be
married that day, instead suffered various fractures and minor head
injuries, while the minister was not seriously hurt. All three will
recover from their injuries.
Located 103 miles Northeast of Portland, Mount Rainier is the tallest
Cascade Range mountain and is under the jurisdiction of the National
Park Service. The Washington peak is well known for its level of
difficulty and unpredictable weather patterns.