One of the six mountain climbers believed dead on Mount Rainier in Washington is a St. Paul man, according to family members, KSTP reports.
Officials said it appears the six fell more than 3,000 feet down a steep rockfall. Searchers detected electronic "pings" from the climbers' emergency beacons Saturday at the 9,000-foot level of the mountain. Their last known location before that was above 12,000 feet, according to KOMO News in Seattle.
"There is no viable way they could have survived," said Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patricia Wold, adding that it's possible their bodies will never be recovered due to the dangerous terrain, KOMO reports.
One of the climbers is Mark Mahaney, 26, of St. Paul, according to KSTP. He is originally from Prior Lake and graduated from Prior Lake High School, according to his uncle Rob Mahaney. He said his nephew is an experienced climber who has climbed Mount Rainier once before and also climbed Mount McKinley in Alaska, the highest peak in North America.
"Mark was doing something that he absolutely loved to do, and there was no one who could've stopped him," Rob Mahaney told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
"Mark was a very energetic child," Rob Mahaney told the newspaper. "He was one to be known to get into trouble no matter what. He learned to put all this energy he had and put it into something he loved to do, which is climbing mountains."
Mark's father, Shawn Mahaney, and brother, Max Mahaney, flew to Seattle on Saturday to join the search efforts, Rob said.
The climbing party was made up of four clients led by two climbing guides from Alpine Ascents International. They began their ascent on Monday and were to reach the summit on Thursday. The group was due back on Friday but didn't show up, and they were reported missing Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Their last known location was in the Liberty Ridge area on the northwest part of the mountain, at about 12,800 feet. Their last contact was Wednesday at 6 p.m. when they called to check in via satellite phone.
Searchers began looking for the group in that area on Saturday. Tents, clothing and debris were located by helicopter searchers, the Seattle Times reports. The debris field is strewn down the mountain’s steep north side — a pattern that suggests an avalanche or rock slide occurred and swept the climbers down the mountain.
Thousands of people attempt to climb 14,410-foot Mount Rainier each year, with about half making it to the summit, according to KOMO. The Liberty Ridge area is considered one of the more technical and advanced routes on the mountain.