As the search for four people on Mount Rainier stretches into its second week, experts say the rewards for the hearty few who attempt the summit of the 14,411-foot heavily-glaciated volcano in winter are great — and so are the dangers.
Thousands head to the mountain in Washington state each winter to snowshoe, winter camp and take in the views. A few hundred of them attempt to summit the massive volcano in the winter.
Experts say the same elements that draw climbers and others to Mount Rainier in the winter can also make searches and rescues challenging. Winter storms on Rainier are frequent, fierce and obstinate.
The tough conditions were brought to the forefront recently after two groups totaling four people were reported missing on the mountain. The two campers and two climbers were due a week ago. Crews looking for them have been pushed back by winds of up to 60 mph, white out conditions, high avalanche dangers and deep snow.
Park rangers believe they are well-equipped for winter conditions but worry they're running out of supplies.
On the Internet:
Mount Rainier National Park: http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/winter-safety.htm