Body retrieved from Mount Rainier

LONGMIRE – Rangers held out little hope Friday they would find a missing Mount Rainier climber alive after the body of his fallen companion was recovered from a glacier.

The two climbers had been attempting the difficult Liberty Ridge route on the north side of the 14,411-foot peak, where two others have died in recent weeks.

Michael Gauthier, supervisory climbing ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, identified the dead climber as Luke Casady, 29, of Stevensville, Mont.

Missing was Ansel Vizcaya, 29, of the Missoula, Mont., area. Vizcaya is an employee of North Cascades National Park in Washington but was climbing on his own time, Gauthier said.

Casady’s wife, Callyn Casady, said Friday that her husband had scaled Mount Rainier three or four times before but had never taken the Liberty Ridge route.

She last talked with him at about 3 a.m. June 11. The couple have a 4-year-old son and were to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary July 3.

“He’s a very, very passionate person,” she said. “A very intense person. He doesn’t do anything lightly.”

Gauthier said Casady’s body was recovered early Friday at the 9,000-foot elevation on the Carbon Glacier below Liberty Ridge.

Rangers planned to continue aerial searches for Vizcaya, but Gauthier said it was unlikely he will be found alive.

Although avalanche danger was extreme on the mountain, the Liberty Ridge route was “in wonderful climbing shape” this week, he said.

“It’s a challenging route, and an accident on it can be very tragic, obviously, but we’re not seeing the intense ice” that would make it especially treacherous, Gauthier said.

Despite the spate of accidents, Gauthier said not many climbers appear to have been discouraged.

“I suspect that some people did turn around, but oddly enough, some people might be drawn to this,” he said.

Rangers hope to rescue a second pair of climbers by helicopter on Saturday, Gauthier said.

Those two climbers, identified by Mount Rainier officials as Al Hancock and Bruce Penn, called for assistance Thursday while descending from the 10,670-foot level on Liberty Ridge, saying they were not injured but were “in over their heads,” Gauthier said.

Hancock, 44, is from Fort McMurray, Alberta, and Penn, 48, is from Connecticut, park spokeswoman Patti Wold said.

Rangers held off sending a rescue team to the pair – who had food and fuel, and weren’t in immediate danger – because they needed to focus on the other search.

Park officials say more than 11,000 people try to climb Mount Rainier annually, including about 200 via Liberty Ridge.

Jon Cahill, 40, of Auburn died June 3 after falling 200 feet on Liberty Ridge. Peter Cooley, 39, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, died May 17, two days after he tumbled down an icy slope on the ridge and hit his head on a rock spur.

An average of three people a year have died in summit attempts since 1990. Casady’s death would be the 92nd since 1887, when records were first kept

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Patrick Kunz speaks during his sentencing on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett gymnastics coach who spied on students sentenced to 6 months

Patrick Kunz, 47, pleaded guilty to charges of voyuerism and possession of child pornography last month.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Everett transgender mechanic alleges Boeing treated her ‘like a zoo animal’

For years, Boeing allowed toxicity “to fester and grow” at its Everett factory, according to Rachel Rasmussen, an employee from 1989 to 2024.

Everett police officers survey the scene of a shooting along East Casino Road on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Washington’s 5th police academy could be in Snohomish County

A new academy in Northwest Washington would help clear a lengthy wait list for new police hires to get training.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.