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t_rutl

Say what? Missing climber on Rainer

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The entire situation is unusual and warrants more information and disclosure.

 

It was reported (by a ranger at MRNP) that after finding their partner missing, the two other members of the party conducted a brief search before continuing to the summit and descending a different route altogether.

 

Like many, I am curious about what decisions were made, and why this happened?

 

I am not trying to incite controversy, but rather, to clarify the facts of the incident and to promote learning from it.

 

Condolences to all involved.

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...It was reported (by a ranger at MRNP) that after finding their partner missing, the two other members of the party conducted a brief search before continuing to the summit and descending a different route altogether...

GB,

What I heard on the MRNP SAR Hotline was that the other two ascended to the summit ridge searching for their lost partner. That is, the crater rim, and not the actual summit. That's how I read that.

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Often in cases of missing party members, there is some delay before the RP contacts SAR, because the RP is right then and there and conducting their own search and because they don't want to cause a false alarm. However, the more time that goes by, the wider the area that the missing could be located.

 

The right call of when to call for help is an "it depends", based on many factors. Given the circumstances and conditions here, I don't think any of us can question their decision on where they went and when they called for help.

 

In more lowland searches, SAR will often advise asking for help ASAP, because SAR may possess inside knowledge of where people repeatedly get lost in an area and are often able to quickly insert and search en masse. Such a tactic does not transfer readily to high on Rainier.

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My condolences to his family and friends, as this one appears to have ended sadly.

 

that sucks

 

thanks for the update

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Just trying to a little dignity to the sad situation by dropping the "Say What?" from the topic title.

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What a sad and seemingly mysterious situation. It says on the 2nd it was "near whiteout" conditions - was it snowing hard, or just cloudy? Apparently any signs of tracks were wiped out or not visible? I know on the 3rd the upper mountain was clear visibility since I could see it from 100+ miles away.

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...It was reported (by a ranger at MRNP) that after finding their partner missing, the two other members of the party conducted a brief search before continuing to the summit and descending a different route altogether...

GB,

What I heard on the MRNP SAR Hotline was that the other two ascended to the summit ridge searching for their lost partner. That is, the crater rim, and not the actual summit. That's how I read that.

 

Thanks for the clarification, Sobo - what about the idea to descend a different route altogether?

 

Gary has valid points and I'm seeking to understand, not to cast blame. It is hard for me to imagine losing someone, climbing up to the summit (or crater rim) and then descending another route altogether. Searchers did find a snowcave on the route the group had ascended, which may or may not have been the lost climber's...

 

Hopefully, the other members of the party will clarify the circumstances and alleviate the mysteries behind this strange incident.

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It is routine for parties ascending Gibralter ledges to descend a different route. The decision to desend a different route was probably made before the climb.

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Regarding the decision to descend a different route-

 

I was up there planning to climb Gib Ledges a week before but we decided that even with an early start conditions were warm enough to increase the objective hazard from rock and icefall well above our comfort level. Even with freezing levels lower on the 2nd than they were on the 26th I still wouldn't want to head back down Gib Ledges after the sun was up and especially after I'd spent additional time searching for the lost climber. Additionally, the ID route is still in good shape and is well wanded which could have been a factor in the decision, especially if one had doubts about finding the top of Gib Chute in whiteout conditions.

 

Granted this is all speculation on my part, but from my armchair I would select the ID as probably the faster and definitely the safer descent route.

Edited by Maxtrax

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Always sad to lose one of our Northwest bretheren this way. Just wanted to say thanks to the climbing rangers for putting forth their best efforts and send my condolences to his friends and family. Take care of each other out there.

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