SEATTLE (AP) — Mount Rainier National Park officials say six climbers are presumed dead after helicopters detected pings from emergency beacons buried in the snow and a debris field that may indicate an avalanche.
Park spokeswoman Patricia Wold told KOMO-TV on Saturday that there’s no way the group could have survived. The Seattle Times reports that rescuers found tents, clothing and debris strewn over hundreds of feet down the mountain’s sheer north side.
The newspaper reports air and ground searches have been suspended.
Park Ranger Fawn Bauer says the six were 12,800 feet at last contact Wednesday. The station reports searchers picked up the pings at 9,000 feet.
The missing group includes four clients of Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International and two guides. They were due to return from the mountain Friday.
A small weather front that brought snow flurries and hail to the mountain moved in on Wednesday, Bauer said. The weather has been clear since then.
Alpine Ascents’ director of programs, Gordon Janow, said he wasn’t ready to release information about the climbers. “Let’s hope they’re found and that it goes well,” he said.
Details — such as ages, gender or hometowns — for the climbers were not immediately available, Bauer said.
In a statement from the park, the guides were described as skilled.
In a blog post on the Alpine Ascents website Thursday, the post said the team had turned around at 13,000 feet during their attempt to reach the summit because of weather conditions. The blog post said all team members were well.