LEAVENWORTH — An accomplished Mukilteo mountaineer who summited the highest peaks on all seven continents died this week in a climbing accident on Dragontail Peak in the Cascade Range, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Thursday.
Dr. Richard Thurmer, 66, who worked for The Everett Clinic, had gone solo climbing in the Enchantments southwest of Leavenworth over the weekend.
He was a skilled, experienced climber who was featured in The Daily Herald in 2017 in a story that began: “Rick Thurmer was just 12 when he added his name to the summit register on Mount Whitney. He and his father completed the trek in one day, starting before sunrise and returning to the trailhead after dark.”
His wife, Allie Thurmer, called 911 on Monday to report she had not heard from her husband in 24 hours. He wasn’t due back until Tuesday, but he would always keep in touch each day with an InReach device, according to the sheriff’s office. A deputy found his vehicle parked near the Bridge Creek Campground along Icicle Creek Road and left a note, with the hope he would return on time. But he did not.
The Enchantments offer a smorgasbord of climbing and few peaks are as popular, well known or accessible as Dragontail. This time of year, the mountain is still very much in winter conditions, with much of the approach covered in snow.
Around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, a crew aboard a search-and-rescue helicopter discovered a motionless body in the snow at the base of the Triple Couloir on the north face of Dragontail Peak — the side of the mountain visible from Colchuck Lake.
The helicopter could not land due to “very high winds,” and the crew was forced to return to Wenatchee, according to the sheriff’s office. Around 2:30 p.m., a two-person ground team arrived and confirmed the victim was Thurmer. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
It appeared he had fallen hundreds of feet.
Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett confirmed the body was recovered via helicopter hoist Thursday morning.
Thurmer was the father of three sons.
Atop of the most difficult peaks, he said, “is where I feel most alive.”
“It’s his way of seeing the world,” Allie Thurmer told the Herald in 2017.
Thurmer’s passion took him to France, Italy, Russia, Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, Nepal and Antarctica, as well as many summits in the United States and Canada.
He climbed the tallest mountains on each continent:
• Aconcagua, Argentina, 22,834 feet, Feb. 11, 1974.
• Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, 19,341 feet, Feb. 10, 2009.
• Mount Everest, Nepal, 29,028 feet, May 17, 2010.
• Mount Elbrus, Russia, 18,510 feet, Aug. 21, 2012.
• Denali, Alaska 20,320 feet, June 15, 2014.
• Carstensz Pyramid, Indonesia, 16,024 feet, Aug. 20, 2016.
• Mount Vinson, Antarctica, 16,050 feet, Jan. 4, 2017.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; email@example.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.
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