Missing climbers traveled far to ascend Rainier
OLYMPIA, Washington (AP) — The climbers who likely died last week on snow-capped Mount Rainier in Washington state had traveled from as far as Singapore, Minnesota and New York to ascend the glacial peak.
The two guides and four clients were all experienced climbers who were taking on a more technical and challenging route to the top of the 14,410-foot (4,392-meter) mountain southeast of Seattle.
Erik Britton Kolb, a 34-year-old finance manager at American Express, had traveled from New York to join the group. Kolb had “an adventurous nature and thirst for seeing the world,” his family said in a statement.
He had traveled extensively to places such as Jordan, Europe and Tanzania, and he was set to take a trip to Peru this summer.
“He was an avid outdoorsman with a passion for new and exciting experiences,” the statement said. He lived with his wife, Lisa, in Brooklyn.
The identities of the two guides from Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International were released on its website. The company and Mount Rainier National Park have refused to release other names, citing privacy issues, but family members and colleagues have released details on the other climbers.
Intel Corp. spokesman Bill Calder confirmed that his colleague Uday Marty, a vice president and managing director of Intel in Southeast Asia, was among the group of climbers.
Marty, who was based in Singapore, was “widely loved and respected at this company,” Calder told The Associated Press. “We are most definitely mourning his loss here.”
Marty, 40, managed sales and marketing in the Asia region and had previously managed global notebook marketing out of the company’s headquarters in Santa Clara, California, according to his biography on the Intel website. He joined the company in 1996.
“He was a guy with a great attitude, and he always had a big smile,” Calder said.
It’s not known whether a rock fall, avalanche or other problem caused the climbers to fall from their last known whereabouts at 12,800 feet (3,900 meters) on Liberty Ridge. They were last heard from at 6 p.m. May 28 when the guides checked in with Alpine Ascents by satellite phone. The group failed to return Friday as planned and authorities said Saturday that they were presumed dead.
It’s also unclear whether the climbers were moving or camping at the time of the accident. Searchers located camping and climbing gear and detected signals from avalanche beacons buried in the snow at the top of Carbon Glacier at 9,500 feet (2,895 meters).
Park rangers and rescuers often are able to retrieve bodies within days of an accident, but sometimes it takes weeks or months, when conditions have improved and snow has melted.
However, the six missing hikers might never be recovered because of the hazardous terrain, authorities say.
Alpine Ascents said Matthew Hegeman, the lead guide, was intense and philosophical with a good sense of humor. Eitan Green, the other guide, loved his time in the mountains and was a strong leader and quick to smile, the website said.
The Seattle Times reported Monday that Seattle mountain climber John Mullally was one of the six. His wife, Holly Mullally, issued a statement to the newspaper saying she had previously been on climbs organized by the company. Efforts by the AP to reach the Mullally family were unsuccessful.
“John was an amazing husband, father, friend, mountaineer, and all-around human being,” Holly Mullally said in the statement to the Times.
The family of Mark Mahaney, 26, of St. Paul, Minn., released a statement Tuesday saying he had reached the summit of Mount Rainier in 2013 but was determined to return and complete the challenging Liberty Ridge route.
“Mark’s young life may have tragically ended, but his loved ones take solemn joy in knowing Mark was participating in his true passion in life, climbing,” the statement said.
Associated Press writers Phuong Le in Seattle and Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee contributed to this report.