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Skier Missing At Liberty Ridge On Mt. Rainier Confirmed Dead


It was confirmed yesterday, June 29th, that a skier that was reported missing this past Friday, June 26th, on Liberty Ridge at Mount Rainier, Washington has died.

Mattew Bunker, 28, from Seattle, was reported missing this past Friday by the other member of his climbing party. The two had been skiing, with Bunker taking up the rear. The two were at approximately 10,400 feet, near Thumb Rock. During the descent, unknown events caused Bunker to fall in steep and treacherous terrain.

During the weekend, the National Park Service's exclusive use A-Star B3 helicopter, staffed with Mount Rainier National Park climbing rangers, flew several search missions in an attempt to locate Bunker. During that time, however, several of those attempts were hindered by poor weather. On Monday the skies cleared and the winds calmed and the helicopter/ranger team was able to make a thorough search of the area. It was during that search that the body of Bunker was located.

Unfortunately, Bunker was located at the base of a cliff that is inaccessible by ground or air teams. This area is subject to continuous rock and ice fall which poses too high of a risk for rescue personnel to access the location and recover Bunker.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Matthew’s loved ones and friends” stated Tracy Swartout, Deputy Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park. “It brings us a great degree of sorrow to be unable to bring him home to his family.”

Matthew Bunker was also a 2013 West Point graduate and served in the military for 5 years.

Two unrelated ground search efforts continue for Vincent Djie in the Longmire/Van Trump area, and Talal Sabbagh in the Paradise area, as local conditions allow. Regarding these two ongoing searches, the park continues to work closely with the two families. Deputy Superintendent Swartout shared “each and every person that goes missing on Mount Rainier is deeply concerning. Our collective hearts ache with the families and loved ones of those who remain missing, who are seeking solace and answers during some of the most difficult days of their lives.”

Photo: The northwest side of Mt. Rainier - Credit: Peter Stevens [CC BY 2.0]

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