One person was killed and two others were injured Wednesday night when a cluster of rocks tumbled onto the group’s campsite on Mount Rainier in Washington, reports say.
Six people were camping while on their way to the summit of the mountain when the rockfall happened at an elevation of about 10,400 feet around 8 p.m., NBC News reported. They were in three pairs and were not with a guide service.
“It’s just one of those things that can happen on an unstable mountain like this,” National Park Service spokesperson Kevin Bacher said, according to NBC affiliate KING. “You can prepare for just about anything, but there’s always going to be rocks that fall. It’s part of the risk that’s inherent to climbing an old volcano like Mount Rainier.”
Search-and-rescue teams reached the group on Thursday and three of the climbers were uninjured. Authorities said a climber on the Liberty Ridge route reported the rockslide, KING reported.
A seriously injured man was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, another injured climber was taken to Arbor Health Morton Hospital and the deceased climber was taken to a medical examiner, according to KING.
The group had intended to climb the summit on Thursday. Instead, all, including the uninjured climbers, were being flown off the mountain that day, CNN reported.
Twenty-four rangers with the park were involved in the rescue and recovery mission, CBS affiliate KIRO reported. The climbers’ names have not been made public.
Bacher told NBC that the area was too hazardous for crews to get to before Thursday. He added that the difficulty of the Liberty Ridge route is usually what draws climbers, noting that about two people die on the mountain each year.
“It’s a breathtaking route,” Bacher said. “Pitting yourself against the challenge and the risk is part of the attraction for climbers.”
Just five years ago, in the same area, six climbers died on the mountain after falling from Liberty Ridge, in the deadliest accident on Mount Rainier since 1981, according to KIRO.
Mount Rainier is an active volcano, but its last eruptive period was about 1,000 years ago, CNN reported.
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