A climber from Alaska was killed in an accident May 29 at Mt. Rainier National Park

 Search and Rescue at Mount Rainier National Park responded to six climbers caught in a rockfall at 10,400 feet Wednesday evening, according to the National Parks Service.

Two of the climbers were flown off the mountain and transported to local hospitals, while a third died on the mountain. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office identified him as Arleigh William Dean, age 45.

The remaining three climbers were uninjured.

At 8 p.m. May 29, at dusk, the park received a 911 call from a climber on the Liberty Ridge route, reporting that a rockfall had swept through the site where three parties of two were camping on their way to the summit. One member of the group was killed, and two others were injured.

“Night was setting in. Liberty Ridge is in a remote area, so flying there in the dark was not a possibility,” Public Information Officer Kevin Bacher said. “Fortunately, the weather was good the next morning and we were able to fly up there and set a staging area at 10,400 feet.

Park rangers responded Thursday in the park’s helicopter, first conducting aerial reconnaissance and then retrieving the most seriously injured climber, transferring him via Airlift Northwest to Harborview Hospital in Seattle.

The second injured climber and the deceased were flown out at 2:30 p.m. May 30 and transferred, respectively, to Arbor Health, Morton Hospital in Morton, Washington and to the Pierce County Medical Examiner. The remaining three climbers were flown off the mountain at 4:45 p.m.

“The other climbers were from all over -- New Jersey, Colorado, we even had one from Poland. None of them were from the local area, Bacher said. “The climber who was most seriously injured was at Harborview Medical Center in serious condition (Friday). He had head, back, and chest injuries. The less seriously-injured climber received a bump on the head, but you’ve got to get that checked out.”

Bacher noted there are rockfalls at Mt. Rainier all the time, with freezing and thawing. The rock broke loose above the high camp.

“There is no other place on earth like Liberty Ridge. Climbers balance the risks and rewards on the Liberty Ridge Route. It presents extraordinary views for those who have the skills and ability to do so.”
Twenty-four rangers from Mount Rainier National Park participated in the incident, along with a chaplain from Tacoma Pierce County Chaplaincy.