An aerial photo of Mount Rainier. The rescued climbers were found between Liberty Cap, the mountain’s smallest peak, and Columbia Crest, it’s tallest, marked with the red pointer. Image courtesy Google Maps

An aerial photo of Mount Rainier. The rescued climbers were found between Liberty Cap, the mountain’s smallest peak, and Columbia Crest, it’s tallest, marked with the red pointer. Image courtesy Google Maps

Climbers rescued after days on Rainier

Several rescue attempts went awry, thanks to bad weather and flying conditions.

“Due to the committing nature of the route, its remote location, and its sustained steep angle, Liberty Ridge has the reputation of being the hardest and most-dangerous regularly climbed route on Mount Rainier.”

The statement is taken directly from the National Park Service website and speaks volumes about one of the popular climbs on the majestic mountain. Simply, Liberty Ridge is tough, dangerous often unrelenting.

That proved true last week for four climbers attempting to summit Liberty Ridge, a climb that started from the White River Campground. They were plucked from a snowy surface the morning of June 6 after being stranded for three days.

A National Park Service press release noted all four were delivered to local hospitals. They were suffering from exposure to the cold but were alive. Others had not been as fortunate. Mount Rainier has been in the news multiple times in recent weeks due to incidents with climbers, the most serious resulting in two deaths due to a rockfall.

The rescued climbers were identified as Yevgeniy Krasnitskiy of Portland, Oregon, Ruslan Khasbulatov of Jersey City, New Jersey, and Vasily Aushev and Constantine Toporov, both of New York, New York. They began their ascent of Mount Rainier on May 31 and, on June 3, Mount Rainier’s Communications Center received a 911 call reporting the climbers had been stranded at 13,500 feet, near the top of the Liberty Ridge climbing route.

Efforts to rescue the four initially proved unsuccessful, with treacherous weather being the culprit. Crews attempted to retrieve the climbers using the park’s helicopter the evening of June 3 and twice the following day, but were turned back by sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. The park requested the assistance of a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which responded with five members of the 2-135th General Support and Aviation Battalion and three pararescue jumpers from the Air Force’s 304th Rescue Squadron, but clouds and wind turned back their two rescue attempts.

Finally, at 9:15 the morning of June 6, luck went the way of the stranded climbers and rescue crews. The park’s helicopter, conducting aerial reconnaissance during a brief window of good weather, spotted the climbers in an area between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest. The helicopter was able to land, confirm the climbers’ identities, and whisk them away in two groups. All four were off the upper mountain in less than an hour.

By that afternoon, staff at Harborview Medical Center’s Emergency Department were reporting that all four were in satisfactory condition.

The climbers moved a half-mile from where they had been seen earlier, in order to be in an area that was less affected by wind and was more accessible to rescuers. According to the Park Service, the route between the two sites required expert and technical climbing and the climbers contributed greatly to their own rescue.

Dozens of people eventually had been involved in the rescue effort, including those from the National Park Service, United States Military, Forest Service and Washington state’s Search and Rescue Planning Unit.

The Liberty Ridge route is said to be one of the more technical and dangerous routes on Mount Rainier, attracting about 100 climbers each year. Both storms and rockfall have injured climbers in the past.

Summit success rates vary substantially more on this route compared to the other standard routes. Some years as many as 60 percent of the climbers succeed; in other years the success rate falls to around 30 percent.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service
                                An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service

An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service An aerial photo of Liberty Ridge. According to the National Park Service, it takes an estimated 8 to 9 hours to hike from Thumb Rock to Columbia Crest (2.5 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain). The climbers were rescued from between Columbia Crest, Mount Rainier’s highest peak, and Liberty Cap, the mountain’s lowest peak. Image courtesy National Park Service

More in Northwest

King County and Public Health have turned a former Econo Lodge motel into an emergency isolation/quarantine facility on Central Avenue in Kent. File photo
King County reports 27 coronavirus cases in homeless shelters

County has provided 60 motel vouchers so far for quarantining homeless individuals.

Renton business owner supports local farmers, brewers during pandemic

The Brewmaster’s Foundation weekly Community Supported Agriculture box includes fresh produce from local farms and beers from Washington breweries.

Inslee, nonprofits launch fund for state’s food banks as supply levels drop

Demand expected to double this week to 1.6 million people in need

First WA state prisoner tests positive for COVID-19

The man is the first person in Washington to contract the disease while in a state prison.

Students will not return to classrooms this school year

Monday’s decision applies to all schools — public, private and charter.

Drive-thru COVID-19 virus testing last week in the parking lot near Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett. A study by the University of Washington and UnitedHealth Group, conducted at Everett Clinic locations, found that a less-intrusive form of the coronavirus test would require fewer precautions by health care workers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
New self-swab COVID-19 test is just as accurate, study finds

The study, under peer review, was led by an Everett Clinic doctor. It could speed up testing nationwide.

Life Care Center (LCC) of Kirkland is facing more than $600,000 in fines for its response to the COVID-19 outbreak in its facility. Samantha Pak/Sound Publishing
Life Care in Kirkland facing more than $600K in fines for COVID-19 response

The facility has until Sept. 16 to pay or address areas of concern or it will be terminated.

Most Read