Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2004-06-13
Submitted By: NWAC
Place: Liberty Ridge, Mt Rainier
State: WA
Country: USA
Fatalities: 2
Summary: 2 climbers caught and killed

Date June 13, 2004

Place Liberty Ridge, Mt Rainier

Fatalities 2

State WA

Country USA

Activity climb

Summary 2 climbers caught and killed

The following is a brief summary of information from an official

National Park Service report.

Two climbers (Luke Casady, Ansel Vizcaya) departed the White River

campground on Friday, June 13, 2004 for a climb of Liberty Ridge.

Their first night was apparently spent on the lower Curtis Ridge. They

climbed to about the 12,200 to 13,200 foot level on Liberty Ridge on

Saturday, June 14 before likely having to camp due to increasing winds

and snowfall. The official report says that by Sunday morning the high

winds had deposited large slabs of snow on leeward slopes. Sometime

Sunday morning, while the 2 were still in camp preparing to either

resume the climb or retreat down the ridge, a large slab avalanche

apparently released above them and carried them down the Liberty Wall

side (west side) of Liberty Ridge. The 2 were swept over cliff bands

and about 4000 vertical feet to the Carbon Glacier. The official

report states that neither climber survived the fall.

Interviews of other climbers on June 17th initiated a search for the

missing climbers that will not be entirely recounted in this report.

Both of the climbers were found in avalanche debris on the Carbon

Glacier. The first body was recovered on June 18 at about the 9000

foot level and the second body was recovered on July 15 at about the

9300 foot level.

The report states that it is unknown if the fatal avalanche was a

natural avalanche or triggered by the victims. Searchers later

reported a 25-100 cm high x 250 m wide crown in the vicinity of the

accident. But searchers also apparently reported other evidence of

large natural slab avalanches in the vicinity following the storm.

Garth Ferber

Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center