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St. Paul climber sought 'bigger challenge' on Mt. Rainier


Mark Mahaney was always in motion. He was an energetic sort, and one of his passions was mountain climbing, according to his uncle. Mahaney's passion led him to attempt to reach the summit of Mount Rainier last week, via one of its more dangerous routes, and that decision ultimately led to his death.

Mahaney, 26, of St. Paul, is one of six people believed to have died after their climbing party fell some 3,300 feet on Mount Rainier, in Washington State, late last week.

Mahaney's uncle, Rob Mahaney of Elko, Minn., said his nephew was always climbing, according to the Seattle Times. Mark Mahaney climbed frozen waterfalls in Minnesota, he climbed Mount Rushmore and summited Mount McKinley in Alaska. And he'd been to the summit of Mount Rainier once before.

(Mahaney shot this video of himself climbing a frozen waterfall in Sandstone, Minnesota in January 2012, using a camera on his helmet.)

“I think he was looking for a bigger challenge,” Rob Mahaney said of his nephew’s decision to tackle the Liberty Ridge route, which is one of the most difficult routes to Mount Rainier's summit, according to the Seattle Times. Rock and ice falls are a bigger risk on that route than others, and become more risky as the weather warms up and melts the snow and ice, according to park officials.

Mahaney had been training for the trip for months, and wrote on his Facebook page that “nothing will be easy on this climb.”

At the family's Easter gathering in April, Rob Mahaney said a relative tried to talk Mark out of making the trip.

“But there was nothing that was going to stop him. This is what gives us a warm feeling: He was doing what he absolutely loved," his uncle said.

The six climbers are presumed dead, and efforts to find them have been called off. Patti Wold, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said conditions are too dangerous for searchers to go to the area where the climbers' gear was spotted on Saturday by a helicopter crew. Their bodies are believed to be buried under layers of ice and snow.

It could be months before their remains are found, if ever, because that area is so hazardous, the Associated Press reports.

It’s unclear whether the climbers were moving or camping at the time of the accident. Rescuers speculate that a rock fall or avalanche caused the climbers to fall.

(This is video Mahaney shot climbing Mount Francis in Alaska, in May 2012, using a helmet cam.)

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