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Conditions slow search for missing climber

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on June 8, 2010 at 9:54 am |
June 8, 2010 1:55 pm

Searchers have so far failed to find an Olympia man believed to have died in an avalanche early Saturday morning on Mount Rainier.

Avalanche conditions improved enough this morning to allow two rescue rangers to look for 27-year-old Mark Wedeven, said park spokesman Kevin Bacher.

Rangers Glenn Kessler and Tom Payne are on the scene on the Ingraham Direct route.

“They have been searching slowly and methodically because of the avalanche conditions, but so dar they have not found anything,” Bacher said.

Park official are now looking at this as a recovery mission and not a rescue, as Wedeven is believed to be dead, Bacher said. Avalanche victims usually succumb to injuries, hypothermia or suffocation within 30 minutes of being trapped.

But, Bacher said, park officials want to give his family closure.

Wedeven’s family Monday night identified Wedeven as the likely missing person.

Bacher also said Wedeven’s car was found at Paradise and other climbers said they saw a man matching Wedeven’s description on the mountain at the time of the slide.

Wedeven was one of 11 people caught in a slide that came down on them as they were attempting to reach the 14,411-foot summit. The climbers were on the Ingraham Direct route, when the large slab slide broke free at 12,700 feet elevation and came down 1,500 feet.

If he did die in the avalanche, Wedeven would be the 96th known mountaineering death in Rainier history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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