6 Climbers Believed To Be Dead On Mount Rainier

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SEATTLE - Mount Rainier National Park officials say six climbers are presumed dead after a helicopter detected pings from emergency beacons buried in the snow and a debris field that may indicate an avalanche.

Park Ranger Fawn Bauer told CBS News that rangers spotted a pile of gear at 9,500 feet that included tents, sleeping bags and jackets that belonged to the missing climbers. The rangers suspect the group might have fallen into the glacier below.

Officials believe the climbers fell about 3,000 feet.

The face where they were climbing is very dangerous and has a chute-like area that frequently creates avalanches, she said.

Wednesday night the group made contact at 12,800 feet and said they were fine.

The National Park Service launched a helicopter Saturday afternoon to do a thorough search of the area where rangers thought the climbers might be.

The missing group includes four clients of Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International and two guides. They were due to return from the mountain Friday.

Rangers not putting anyone at risk to rescue the group, but they are holding out hope, Bauer said.

Posted By: Lindsay Sax