A helicopter picked up an injured climber from Mount Rainier on Wednesday, but rangers said it would be a day or two before they could recover the body of his companion, a professional guide who died in a fall.
Don McIntyre, 51, of Reno, Nev., and Joel Koury, 37, of Santa Monica, Calif., were descending the mountain Tuesday afternoon when they fell 60 to 80 feet into a crevasse on Emmons Glacier, said John Krambrink, chief ranger in Mount Rainier National Park. The accident occurred about 900 feet below the 14,411-foot summit.
Two other climbers summoned help. Koury, who received minor injuries, was helped by rangers to Camp Schurman, just below 10,000 feet on the mountain’s northeast side. On Wednesday, he was flown by helicopter to the White River campground.
It was not immediately known why the pair fell.
“A lot of climbers went over that route recently and had no problems.” Krambrink said. “It could be one of many things - a snow bridge collapse, a slip, equipment failure.”
The route they took to reach the summit, along Liberty Ridge, is much more demanding than the most common route up the mountain, via Camp Muir above Paradise, and usually is attempted earlier in the climbing season, Krambrink said.
Heavy snow this year has kept Liberty Ridge accessible longer than normal, but only across a large field of crevasses, he said.
Two rangers remained at the crevasse to try to recover McIntyre’s body. Krambrink said it could take several days to recover the body because it’s in a dangerous location.
Koury, a Los Angeles County public defender, and McIntyre were close friends, said Yolanda Lewis, who answered the phone at Koury’s Santa Monica home.
She said Koury, who spoke to her on a cellular phone, was “really broken up - this is the first climbing death he’s experienced.”
McIntyre was an avid climber and retired director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s counterintelligence office, friends and colleagues said Wednesday.
He moved to Reno last fall to pursue a new career as a mountaineering guide, said his business partner and friend, John Cleary.
“He’s been climbing more than 20 years.” Cleary said. “He was a very experienced mountaineer.”
McIntyre, a Vietnam veteran who joined the DOE more than 20 years ago, headed the DOE inspectors who were sent to Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War to determine Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, Washington sources said.
Jane Brady, a DOE spokeswoman in Washington, said McIntyre worked under the office of nuclear nonproliferation and worked with the DOE laboratory, the FBI and other agencies “to ensure the laboratories were protected from foreign intelligence activities.”
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