An aerial photo of Mount Rainier. The rescued climbers were found between Liberty Cap, the mountain’s smallest peak, and Columbia Crest, it’s tallest, marked with the red pointer. Image courtesy Google Maps

An aerial photo of Mount Rainier. The rescued climbers were found between Liberty Cap, the mountain’s smallest peak, and Columbia Crest, it’s tallest, marked with the red pointer. Image courtesy Google Maps

Climbers rescued after days on Rainier

Several rescue attempts went awry, thanks to bad weather and flying conditions.

“Due to the committing nature of the route, its remote location, and its sustained steep angle, Liberty Ridge has the reputation of being the hardest and most-dangerous regularly climbed route on Mount Rainier.”

The statement is taken directly from the National Park Service website and speaks volumes about one of the popular climbs on the majestic mountain. Simply, Liberty Ridge is tough, dangerous often unrelenting.

That proved true last week for four climbers attempting to summit Liberty Ridge, a climb that started from the White River Campground. They were plucked from a snowy surface the morning of June 6 after being stranded for three days.

A National Park Service press release noted all four were delivered to local hospitals. They were suffering from exposure to the cold but were alive. Others had not been as fortunate. Mount Rainier has been in the news multiple times in recent weeks due to incidents with climbers, the most serious resulting in two deaths due to a rockfall.

The rescued climbers were identified as Yevgeniy Krasnitskiy of Portland, Oregon, Ruslan Khasbulatov of Jersey City, New Jersey, and Vasily Aushev and Constantine Toporov, both of New York, New York. They began their ascent of Mount Rainier on May 31 and, on June 3, Mount Rainier’s Communications Center received a 911 call reporting the climbers had been stranded at 13,500 feet, near the top of the Liberty Ridge climbing route.

Efforts to rescue the four initially proved unsuccessful, with treacherous weather being the culprit. Crews attempted to retrieve the climbers using the park’s helicopter the evening of June 3 and twice the following day, but were turned back by sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. The park requested the assistance of a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which responded with five members of the 2-135th General Support and Aviation Battalion and three pararescue jumpers from the Air Force’s 304th Rescue Squadron, but clouds and wind turned back their two rescue attempts.

Finally, at 9:15 the morning of June 6, luck went the way of the stranded climbers and rescue crews. The park’s helicopter, conducting aerial reconnaissance during a brief window of good weather, spotted the climbers in an area between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest. The helicopter was able to land, confirm the climbers’ identities, and whisk them away in two groups. All four were off the upper mountain in less than an hour.

By that afternoon, staff at Harborview Medical Center’s Emergency Department were reporting that all four were in satisfactory condition.

The climbers moved a half-mile from where they had been seen earlier, in order to be in an area that was less affected by wind and was more accessible to rescuers. According to the Park Service, the route between the two sites required expert and technical climbing and the climbers contributed greatly to their own rescue.

Dozens of people eventually had been involved in the rescue effort, including those from the National Park Service, United States Military, Forest Service and Washington state’s Search and Rescue Planning Unit.

The Liberty Ridge route is said to be one of the more technical and dangerous routes on Mount Rainier, attracting about 100 climbers each year. Both storms and rockfall have injured climbers in the past.

Summit success rates vary substantially more on this route compared to the other standard routes. Some years as many as 60 percent of the climbers succeed; in other years the success rate falls to around 30 percent.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service
                                An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service

An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service

More in Northwest

Needles littered the ground throughout a homeless encampment at Federal Way’s Hylebos Wetlands, which is public property. Sound Publishing file photo
Republican leadership doubts effectiveness of homelessness spending

Democrats propose hundreds of millions toward affordable housing.

Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht gave a response to an Office of Law Enforcement Oversight report on Feb. 25 before the King County Law and Justice Committee. The report recommended ways her department could reform use of force policy and internal investigations. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Council unsatisfied with Sheriff’s response to use of deadly force report

The King County Sheriff’s Office could be required to explain why it didn’t implement recommendations.

King County approves low-income Metro fare waivers

Low-income transit riders could see their King County Metro fares waived beginning… Continue reading

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
Charter amendments could allow King County Council to remove elected officials

The change was recommended by the charter review commission.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Democratic lawmakers roll out spending plans for climate change, homelessness

Republican opposition calls for tax relief, rather than spending the increased revenue.

The Colstrip Power Plant in Montana. Puget Sound Energy owns 25 percent of the remaining two units. File photo
PSE files to sell part of Colstrip coal plant

The utility owns two units at the Montana power plant.

Fentanyl (Courtesy photo)
Fentanyl overdoses keep increasing in King County

Meth overdoses are on the rise as well, continuing a trend reported on last year.

Charter review could overhaul King County Sheriff’s Office

Several changes to the King County Sheriff’s Office were proposed.

PNW plant-based foods could help in climate fight

Animal products create a lot of emissions, but veggie alternatives are coming from King County.

Most Read