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POSTED: 12:57 pm PDT June 10, 2008
UPDATED: 6:38 pm PDT June 10, 2008
LONGMIRE, Wash. -- Following the issue of a rare June snow warning for the Cascades on Monday, a hiker was killed on Mount Rainier Tuesday and two other hikers are awaiting rescue at Camp Muir after they were trapped by severe weather during a hike.
The camp is a staging area for climbers located at about 10,000 feet elevation on the 14,410-foot mountain.
A spokesman for the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office told KIRO 7 News that they were notified of a death on the mountain but have not responded because the body has not yet been recovered. An official from the national park also confirmed the hiker's death with KIRO Tuesday afternoon.
A hiker called 911 at 3:30 a.m. and said that three people were trapped in a blizzard on the Muir snowfield.
"The conditions were extreme. It was very cold, very snowy; as bad as it gets up here," said park spokesman Kevin Bacher. "We received two feet of snow at Paradise overnight."
Heavy snow and near-zero visibility made it impossible for rescuers to start a search, but at 7:15 a.m. one hiker was able to reach Camp Muir and directed a search crew, which consisted of climbing guides and park rangers, to the other hikers near Anvil Rock, a large outcropping at the edge of the Muir snowfield.
By the time crews were able to reach the other hikers, one, identified only as a man in his 30s, was dead from exposure.
Bacher said that due to the injuries of the surviving hikers, who are suffering from frostbite and hypothermia, officials were hoping to get a Fort Lewis army helicopter to the scene, but by Tuesday evening, officials said the weather would not allow the victims' transport and they would have to wait until Wednesday morning, when a chopper will be on standby starting at 5 a.m.
Bacher said three doctors associated with a climbing concessionaire in the park are at Camp Muir with the hikers, a man and a woman, who are in serious but stable condition. The female survivor is the wife of the man who was killed. The other survivor is a family friend.
The hikers are all from Bellevue. Two are 31 years old and one is 35 years old. Bacher said two in the group had reached the summit of Mount Rainier previously. All three were described as very experienced hikers.