Man dies in avalanche on Mount Rainier

  1. This is so sad. I've known him since I was 5 :crybaby:

    When crews finally were able to set out Friday to look for a snowshoer missing in an avalanche since Tuesday, they held out a glimmer of hope they might find the Lynnwood-area man alive.

    Just before sunset, crews found the man dead.

    About 4 p.m., rescuers found the body of Kirk Reiser, 22, Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher said.

    "It's not the miracle we were hoping for," he said. "But it is the outcome we expected."

    Reiser was snowshoeing with a friend Tuesday when he set off an avalanche and was swallowed by the snow, Bacher said.

    As a general rule, people can survive about 30 minutes buried in snow, he said. Reiser was missing for more than three days.

    Just after noon Friday, rescue crews set off explosives to reduce avalanche danger near where Reiser was last seen. That allowed the rescuers to enter the area with metal detectors and dogs trained to find people in snow.

    About 40 mountain rescue workers, including seven from Snohomish County, entered the area with shovels and long, lightweight poles to probe the snow, Bacher said.

    On Tuesday morning, Reiser, an Edmonds Community College student, and Troy Metcalf, 23, a childhood friend and neighbor also from the Lynnwood area, set out to try to climb to Camp Muir, at an elevation of about 10,000 feet on Mount Rainier's southern slopes.

    The two men's families have been very close for years, Reiser said.

    The men left from Paradise, a popular staging area for winter snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and other activities. Both were described as experienced and strong hikers. They reached the area of Panorama Point when heavy snow and poor visibility forced them to turn around, Bacher said.

    On the way back, they drifted slightly off course. Rather than try to find their way back to the trail, the two instead decided to descend into the Edith Creek Basin and return to Paradise along the creek bed, Bacher said.

    Walking down into the canyon, Reiser set off the avalanche.

    "It's the kind of mistake that could happen very easily to anyone," Bacher said. "It's the kind of judgement call that many people have made without fatal consequences. They lost the roll of the dice."

    Metcalf searched for his friend for hours before returning to Paradise to get help.

    Rescue crews Wednesday and Thursday were hampered by heavy snow, low visibility and dangerous avalanche conditions.

    By Friday, mountain rescuers were anxious to get to the search area to find Reiser.

    "In one sense, we are discouraged that it came out the way it did," Bacher said. "At the same time, we're relieved that we were able to put a conclusion to this."

    The weekend forecast was for more heavy snow and bad conditions that likely would have made it difficult for crews to spend time in the search area.

    Finding Reiser's body allowed his family to stop wondering what happened, Bacher said.

    Reiser's family was waiting Friday with officials at the park's Longmire headquarters, Bacher said.

    "They've been following the search very closely," he said.

    Both men's families were waiting at Paradise when the grim news came back off the mountain Friday afternoon, Bacher said.

    "It's very emotional for everyone involved," he said.

    Each year, an average of two people die on the 14,410-foot high volcano, Bacher said. Most lives are claimed high on the mountain's glaciers or on the Muir snow field.

    "People can get lost up there, they can fall off cliffs on either side or die from exposure," he said. "To have something like this happen down in the front country, just a mile out of Paradise, nobody on our staff can remember when that last happened.
  2. I'm so sorry.

    I lost a colleague in an avalance on Mt. Hood a few years back. I know how shocking a loss it is.

    My condolences to you and to all his friends and family.
  3. May I also extend my condolances to you, and his family and friends.

    He must have been a very brave man to climb this huge mountian during the wiinter snows.
  4. So sad, specially during this time of the year! RIP.
  5. Heart wrenching..I wonder how the friend was able to survive?
  6. So sorry for the loss of your lifelong friend.
  7. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.