Whiteout stymies Mount Rainier climber rescue

Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2001

PARADISE, Wash. (AP) -- A team of rangers reached four stranded climbers and hiked with them to Mount Rainier's summit Tuesday, but a sudden whiteout kept a helicopter from plucking them off the mountaintop.

High winds and cloud cover caused the rescue to be called off for the night about 6 p.m., leaving the group to camp overnight on the mountain.

Mount Rainier National Park officials said they might be flown off the peak Wednesday or might climb down.

The four climbers, who were not hurt, were identified as Dylan Scoville-Simonds of Seattle and James Fishburn, Alton Willoughby and Mike Schiller, whose hometowns were not immediately known.

The climbers had broadcast a mayday Monday evening, saying they had been stranded by an avalanche and pinned in by bad weather on Liberty Ridge, said park spokeswoman Maria Gillett.

A military Chinook helicopter spotted the climbers and a tent around 8 a.m. Tuesday and dropped a rescue crew of six rangers on the mountain's broad summit, at 14,122 feet.

The rangers climbed down to the four men, who were at about 13,500 feet, and reached them in the afternoon. The climbers had lost some of their gear in the avalanche and could not continue.

The rangers helped them reach the summit, where they were to be picked up by helicopter.

Liberty Ridge, on Mount Rainier's north flank, is considered one of the most challenging climbs on the peak, and it is usually attempted only by experienced climbers.

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