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Climber killed by Mount Rainier rockfall

By
Danielle Haynes

May 31 (UPI) -- A rockfall on Washington's Mount Rainier this week killed one climber and injured two others, park officials said.

The rockfall took place late Wednesday at about on the Liberty Ridge route up the mountain, known for being one of the most dangerous. Six people in three tents were affected by the fall.

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"Two people apiece were on their way up this route to the summit of Mount Rainier and were camped at an elevation of about 10,400 feet just below a feature called Thumb Rock," Kevin Bacher with Mount Rainier National Park told KOMO-TV in Seattle. "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."

Rescuers were unable to help the climbers until the next morning when it was light out. At dawn Thursday, helicopters reached the site and immediately evacuated one climber with serious injuries. The 37-year-old climber was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

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The other injured climber and the deceased victim were transported later in the day.

"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."

Officials said the uninjured climbers stayed with the injured to provide care and comfort, and allow them to rest in their tents.

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"So really, this was an incident that started out with three completely unrelated climbing parties going up the mountain that were thrown together by this incident," Bacher said. "And in the end, came down the mountain as one team."

The climbers were from New Jersey, Colorado, Alaska and Poland.

The National Park Service said about 98 attempt to climb Mount Rainier using Liberty Ridge each year and about 53 percent succeed.

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