A body believed to be that of a climber missing on Mount Hunter will probably be left at the 8,000-foot level, a National Park Service spokeswoman said today.
“Given the situation right now the bodies aren’t going to be recovered,” Park Service spokeswoman Kris Fister said. The body, spotted Monday, is on a small ledge on a steep cliff where large chunks of snow and ice fall frequently, making it too treacherous to attempt a recovery.
“It’s definitely a problem for anyone or anything to get into that area, including the helicopter,” Fister said.
Officials believe Chuck Drake, a 27-year-old climbing instructor from Seattle, had been wearing the blue and black parka spotted on the victim. Because two packs and additional climbing gear were seen next to his body, they are assuming the body of Joshua Hane, 28, of Madison, Wis. is buried nearby in debris.
Searchers were being sent home Tuesday. Rangers will continue to monitor the site for any sign of the second victim. The Park Service’s high-altitude Llama helicopter flies past the area on a daily basis, said Fister.
Drake and Hane attempted to reach the summit of 20,320-foot Mount McKinley last month but were turned back 3,000 feet from the summit by bad weather and by Drake’s altitude sickness. When they returned to the base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier, they decided to climb 14,573 Mount Hunter, a much more difficult mountain to climb.
It is unclear whether the two ran into trouble on the way up or the way down, said mountaineering ranger J.D. Swed.