Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: NWAC
Place: Liberty Ridge, Mt Rainier
Summary: 2 climbers caught and killed
Date June 13, 2004
Place Liberty Ridge, Mt Rainier
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.
Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center