‘Solemn joy’ for climbers
1:55 pm June 12th, 2014
Mark Mahaney took this picture of himself on Mount Rainier, according to his family, who made it available to the news media after Mahaney and five other people in his climbing party died in an accident on the mountain.
By Pat Jenkins
The bodies of six climbers who were killed in an avalanche on Mount Rainier last month may never be recovered, but their families say they’ll never be forgotten.
In the days following the first reports of the deaths, relatives and associates of the climbers confirmed their identities and issued statements memorializing them. In one of the statements, the wife, parents and other kin of Mark Mahaney, 26, said in an e-mail to the news media that they “take solemn joy in knowing Mark was participating in his true passion in life – climbing.”
Similar statements were made about the other climbers who perished on or about May 29. That was the date that the climbing party radioed that they were turning back from their attempt to reach the summit. They weren’t heard from again, and searchers discovered some of the climbers’ gear strewn along the mountainside amid evidence of an avalanche.
Along with Mahaney, who was from St. Paul, Minn., the climbers were Uday Marty, an Intel Corp. executive for the company in southeast Asia, John Mulally of Seattle, Erik Kolb of Brooklyn, N.Y., and two guides from Alpine Ascent International – Matthew Hageman and Eitan Green.
Danger from potential rockfalls and icefalls stymied any hope of recovering the climbers’ bodies by digging through ice and snow. Officials of Mount Rainier National Park said removing the bodies may be impossible, but as snow melts, “the site will be checked periodically by aircraft” in case recoveries of bodies by helicopter are possible.
The death toll exceeds the five deaths of climbers and other visitors that occurred in the park in accidents in 2012. The climber-related casualties included Nick Hall, a park ranger who fell to his death during a rescue of injured, stranded climbers who survived.
The latest fatalities represent the second-highest toll in a single climbing mishap in the mountain’s recorded history of climbing. Eleven people died in 1980 in an icefall on Ingraham Glacier.
Since 1897, 89 climbers have lost their lives on Mount Rainier.
Officials believe the climbers killed last month were swept more than 3,000 feet down the face of the mountain.
They were on the Liberty Ridge climbing route, which is considered technically difficult and particularly dangerous because it’s prone to avalanches and rockfalls.
“This accident represents a horrific loss for our guide partners and the families and loved ones of every one of the climbers lost on the mountain,” said park superintendent Randy King.