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Effort to find missing climber becomes ‘continuing limited search’

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on June 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
June 24, 2011 12:37 pm

Mount Rainier National Park officials this afternoon said the search for a missing climber – believed to be 50-year-old Rob Plankers of Olympia – has been scaled down to a “continuing limited search.”

Climbing rangers believe Plankers slid to his death on Liberty Ridge last week.

Earlier search efforts provided distinctive clues that indicate the climber fell from his exposed bivy at 13,600 feet, said a park news release.

Search efforts focused heavily in areas where the fallen climber would have likely come to rest. Much of the search area is composed of icefall debris, several heavily crevassed areas and the Carbon Glacier bergschrund.

The threat of falling ice and rockfall continue to severely limit search efforts on the ground and initial aviation-based searches were curtailed due to unsafe flying conditions.

Continuing search efforts include investigation of photos taken during the flights, interviews with climbers on the route, visual searches from the ground from safe vantage points by rangers patrols on the route, as well as continued, opportunistic aerial search by helicopter throughout the rest of the season, since it is possibile the body or clues will be exposed by melting snow.

Independent parties climbing the route are being asked to contact the park service and to take GPS coordinates, elevation, and photos to help identify any clues they may observe, but to not attempt any retrieval due to the high objective hazards in the area.

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