UPDATE, 6:30 – Two of the 10 rescuers are spending the night at Camp Muir in hopes of taking advantage of a weather window and better search conditions tomorrow morning. The other eight returned to Paradise searching the Muir Snowfield along the way. Another storm is expected by midday tomorrow.
A team of 10 elite mountaineers are searching for two overdue parties today between Paradise and Camp Muir on the south side of Mount Rainier. The team will spend tonight at Camp Muir.
The highly skilled team is familiar with handling the potential treacheries of winter mountaineering including extreme avalanche exposure. The team includes Mount Rainier climbing rangers, members of International Mountain Guides and Rainier Mountaineering Inc. and members of the Everett and Seattle mountain rescue teams.
A helicopter is on standby at Join Base Lewis-McChord, but freezing rain is preventing flights today.
“The weather is the greatest challenge to search efforts at this time,” stated incident commander Kelly Bush.
The field team is reportedly making good progress and conditions are adequate for continued searching this afternoon, said Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold.
“The search will be immediately suspended if conditions become unsafe,” according to a prepared statement from the park.
Two people camping on the Muir Snowfield were due out on Jan. 15. A second party of two climbers was attempting the 14,411-foot summit via the Disappointment Cleaver route was due out Jan. 16.
Both parties are equipped for winter camping, park officials say concern is growing because of their dwindling food and supply. Park officials believe both parties are waiting out the storm, as is the recommendation to all visitors on the upper mountain.