Juneau climber dies in Mount Rainier rock fall

A view of Mount Rainier in Washington state.

A view of Mount Rainier in Washington state. (Creative Commons photo by Ben Grey)

A climber who died after a rock fall on Mount Rainier swept through a campsite was identified as 45-year-old Arleigh William Dean of Juneau, Alaska, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office in Tacoma, Washington.

A 37-year-old climber remained in intensive care Friday. A third climber was also injured.

The climber in intensive care was in serious condition, Susan Gregg, a spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center, said in a statement. The other injured climber was taken to Arbor Health, Morton Hospital in Morton, Washington, where he was treated and released Thursday, said Roy Anderson, the hospital’s spokesman.

The names of the other climbers were not made public.

Officials received a 911 call at 8 p.m. Wednesday reporting six climbers were caught in the rock fall on the mountain’s Liberty Ridge route, KOMO-TV reported .

The climbers were camped at an elevation of about 10,400 feet (3,170 meters) just below a mountain feature called Thumb Rock when the rock fall happened, said Kevin Bacher, a spokesman for Mt. Rainier National Park said.

“And a piece of the mountain above them had broken loose and started a rock avalanche — a rock slide that swept through their camp hitting one of the tents there directly and another one a little less so,” Bacher said.

Bacher said one member of the group was dead and two were hurt but that rescuers could not get to them Wednesday night because it was getting dark on the remote part of the mountain.

“As soon as the weather permitted us to fly we sent a helicopter up to do some reconnaissance of the area and then slowly over the course of the day to bring out the injured parties,” Bacher said.

The body of the climber who died was taken to the county medical examiner’s office in Tacoma, Washington.

“The two injured climbers were in pretty good condition when they left the park here,” Bacher said. “Certainly with some major injuries but they were very happy to be down off of the mountain and heading into medical care.”

The three climbers who were not hurt were in a different climbing party but assisted the injured by sheltering them and feeding them, Bacher said.

“They as a group up there on the mountain they worked together, they supported each other,” Bacher said. “Even the people who had never met before they came together in this incident out there on the mountain. And it’s part of the reason that they came through so well.”

Bacher said the climbers were camped in an area considered to be very safe.

“But there’s no place on the mountain that is completely risk free,” Bacher said.

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