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Stranded — Lost, Inadequate Clothing and Equipment, Washington, Mount Rainier, Disappointment Cleaver

STRANDED—LOST, INADEQUATE CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT

Washington, Mount Rainier, Disappointment Cleaver

Early on the morning of September 1, the two-person Connell party called Mount Rainier communications by cell phone to report that they had lost the climbing route in a white out and were unable to find their way up or down the mountain. Without any bivy gear, the party requested a rescue. Rangers Beilstein and Holien were notified at Camp Muir where they prepared for a climb and set out to locate the lost party. After three hours of climbing, the weather cleared and the rangers were able to make contact with them at 12,800 feet. They escorted the team back to their camp at 11,000 feet.

Analysis

The Connell party was climbing the popular Disappointment Cleaver route which normally has a well established boot track to the summit. It was reported to the party when they registered that storms during the preceding days had covered parts of the route. Carrying only fanny packs, the climbers did not have a map, compass or bivy gear and were unable to help themselves. Poor weather had been predicted and other parties reported seeing them head into the clouds earlier that morning. The route becomes entirely glaciated above 12,300 feet, and the climbers were unable to use any ground features for navigation.

Carrying the appropriate gear for a summit climb or day trip is strongly recommended, especially when foul weather is predicted and the route is difficult to follow. Although a cell phone enabled the climbers to request help, proper gear including map, compass and wands would have allowed them to find their route back to camp, thus avoiding the need for rescue. (Source: Mike Gauthier, SAR Ranger, Mount Rainier National Park)