On Tuesday, the body of a man matching the description of missing solo climber Dawes Eddy, 80, of Spokane, was recovered from 11,500 feet on the Ingraham Direct climbing route at Mount Rainier.
Eddy embarked on a solo climb of Mount Rainier on Tuesday, May 30. The last confirmed sighting of Eddy was at 8:30 p.m., heading uphill at Cathedral Gap. Mount Rainier National Park rangers were notified of an overdue climber on June 1 and immediately used aerial and ground resources to search likely climbing routes, according to a news release.
Over the course of the six-day operation, the park’s A-STAR helicopter and ground teams searched both the upper and lower mountain portions of Eddy’s probable route.
On Saturday, June 3, the Army National Guard 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) Blackhawk helicopter conducted a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) night operation flight of the Nisqually and Cowlitz Glaciers. During the operation, no signs of body heat of a solo climber were detected.
On Monday, June 5, at approximately 9 p.m., two guides from Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI), spotted an unresponsive climber in a crevasse while doing route work. RMI then notified the park.
On Tuesday, June 6, the park’s exclusive use helicopter performed a reconnaissance flight of the crevasse. Following the flight, a team of four climbing rangers and one RMI guide ascended on foot to the scene. They assessed the situation and successfully extricated the deceased climber who was then flown off the mountain. The Pierce County medical examiner will identify the climber.
Numerous park and partner resources assisted in search operations.
“In addition to the park’s climbing rangers and aviation resources, the park would like to thank volunteers from Central Washington, Everett, Olympic, and Tacoma mountain rescues; climbing guides from International Mountain Guides (IMG), Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI), and Alpine Ascents International (AAI) for assistance searching during their routine guided climbs in active search zones; the Army National Guard 1-168th GSAB for conducting the FLIR flight; and the Army Reserve F Co. 2-135th GSAB for making their Chinook helicopters available as contingency resources,” the park wrote in a news release.
Mount Rainier National Park is renowned as a popular climbing destination.
Solo climb permits are declined or approved based on a combination of factors including the applicant’s experience, skill, plan, forecasted weather, the proposed route and dates, and their equipment list.
Before departing on any climb, the park advises climbers to leave their itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Information on climbing routes, weather, guide services, permits, route briefs and other safety information is located on the park’s webpage: https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/climbing.htm
This story from The Spokesman-Review details Eddy’s history as a climber. It was published before the discovery of the body on Monday:
Treva Lind / The Spokesman-Review (TNS)
A search continued Monday for longtime Spokane mountain climber Dawes Eddy, 80, who was reported missing Thursday during another solo climb of the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier.
Eddy, who once held the record as the oldest person to summit Mount Everest, left May 30 to ascend via the Ingraham Direct route and told park officials he planned to return the next day.
An experienced climber, he'd also reported ahead of his departure to park rangers that this trip marked his 50th ascent of Mount Rainier.
"Starting on Thursday, June 1, the park initiated a search using both ground and aerial resources," Terry Wildy, a Mount Rainier National Park ranger, said Monday. Wildy said the search is ongoing and that weather conditions are favorable.
"We're looking along Mr. Eddy's planned route and any adjacent zones, which is pretty typical when we get into a missing climber situation, and as of this morning, Mr. Eddy has not been located."
Wildy said she had no reports on whether Eddy made any attempts to contact his family or officials during his climb.
In 2009, Eddy gained brief worldwide fame when he became the oldest American to climb Mount Everest. Eddy then was 66 and held the title for two days before a 67-year-old Californian claimed it.
More than once, Eddy has done the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim. In 2015 and at age 72, he set out with a daypack for a solo hike from the Grand Canyon's South Rim to the North Rim — and back. The 42-mile trek via the Kaibab trails has a gain of 10,600 feet of elevation, coupled with an equally grueling elevation loss.
He's climbed other peaks and regularly exercises to stay in shape.
Wildy said there were some foggy conditions on May 31 but otherwise the weather was fairly good.
" The winds picked up yesterday," she said, "but the visibility has been very good for searches."
This is a busy time of year for climbers to the summit, and they come prepared to expect ice and snow, Wildy said.
In several articles in The Spokesman-Review, Eddy has talked about his enjoyment of exercise and mountain climbing, along with rewriting the physical limitations of growing older.
In 2013, he attempted another climb of Mount Everest at age 70, when he reported feeling as strong and healthy as he did for the prior trip. However, his aerobic capacity never got up to speed, he said. He reached about 23,700 feet, higher than the tallest peak on all other continents, when he and his guide decided to turn back.
His wife had convinced him to give up the world's highest mountains, a 2015 article said, but the retiree didn't cut back from being regularly active.
On a December trip to Anza Borrego Desert State Park in southern California, Eddy went on an early morning hike and didn't return as expected that day after climbing the San Ysidro Mountain East Peak.
There was a brief search and rescue operation overnight and into early the next morning, but Eddy was spotted heading back to a campground just after 9 a.m.
He told rescue crews he was unable to finish that hike on time, so he hunkered down for the night and used his survival skills to stay warm.
Eddy was the focus of a high-altitude health research project in 2009 on whether altitude is harder on aging bodies. A group of scientists, physicians, psychologists and athletic consultants worked with Eddy to test theories about potential muscle mass loss, effect on executive skills and other factors.
He also spent months undergoing a battery of tests to establish his health and fitness before and after his trip to Nepal in 2009.
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