A group of six climbers are believed to have fallen thousands of feet to their deaths from one of America’s tallest mountains.
Search teams spotted a heap of climbing and camping gear in the avalanche-prone Carbon Glacier area of Mount Rainier, about 3,300ft (1,000m) below the group’s last known location.
Helicopter crews also detected emergency signals from avalanche beacons dotted on the mountainside.
The climbers, including four customers of Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International and two guides, had been due to leave Mount Rainier, in Washington state, on Friday.
Fawn Bauer, a Mount Rainier National Park (MRNP) ranger, said the group had “no viable chance of survival”.
Air and ground searches were suspended late on Saturday afternoon and no recovery plans are in place because of the danger of falling rock and ice, a park spokeswoman said.
Mount Rainier, a 14,410ft tall active volcano, is the most heavily glaciated peak in the US.
Thousands of people successfully reach the summit every year, according to the MRNP.
However, climbers must be in good physical condition and be well equipped for the climb, which ascends more than 9,000ft over a distance of about eight miles.
The MRNP’s website warns: “Weather, snow, and route conditions can change rapidly, making the difference between a pleasant and rewarding experience or a tragedy.
“Before beginning a climb, obtain a current weather forecast.
“During your climb, turn back if weather conditions deteriorate. Severe winter-like storms on the mountain are not uncommon during the summer.”
1 June 2014 | 10:06 am – Source: orange.co.uk