Six climbers were missing on Mount Rainier in Washington state, and a helicopter search was launched for them Saturday, a National Parks spokeswoman said.
The missing group includes four clients of Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International and two guides. They were due to return from the mountain on Friday. When they did not return, the climbing company notified park officials, Park Ranger Fawn Bauer said.
"The last contact with them was at 12,800 feet," Bauer said.
Mount Rainier, southeast of Seattle, stands at 14,410 feet and attracts thousands of climbers trying to reach its summit every year.
The search for the missing climbers is focusing on the Liberty Ridge area, near from where they were last heard from, Bauer said. The search includes climber ranger teams on the ground and flyovers with a helicopter.
The last contact the group had with the climbing company was on Wednesday. They were scheduled to reach the summit of Mount Rainier on Thursday, with a day to climb down. The group is equipped with satellite and mobile phones.
A small weather front that brought snow flurries and hail to the mountain moved in on Wednesday, Bauer said. The weather has been clear since then.
Alpine Ascents' director of programs, Gordon Janow, said he wasn't ready to release information about the climbers. "Let's hope they're found and that it goes well," he said.
Details — such as ages, gender or hometowns — for the climbers were not immediately available, Bauer said.
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