While it was originally hoped that the climbers could be rescued, weather in the form of snowfall and wind has hampered efforts so far.
The National Park Service news release
notes that there were five climbers from the Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation involved in the climb. The mountaineers were descending Mount McKinley at the time of the avalanche.
One climber, 69 year-old Hitoshi Ogi was swept into a crevasse in the avalanche and was able to climb out and continue the descent. Ogi spent some time searching for his climbing group, but found no evidence of anyone in the debris field.
The 4,600 ft. descent from 11,800 ft. back down to the 7,200 ft. level was accomplished in less than two hours, and Ogi was able to report the climbing team's disaster.
Park Rangers quickly performed an aerial search with the park's A Star B-3 helicopter, but found no evidence of the missing climbers.
Mr. Ogi and the missing climbers: Mr. Yoshiaki Kato, age 64; Ms. Masako Suda, age 50; Ms. Michiko Suzuki, age 56; and Mr. Tamao Suzuki, age 63, are from Miyagi Prefecture in Japan.
The park service began a rescue operation on Friday, but with the time elapsed so far, the effort has now changed to one of recovery of the missing climbers.
There are as of today, 395 climbers attempting various routes up Mount McKinley. The majority use the Western Buttress route where the Miyagi climbers were.
Of 630 climbers who have made the attempt this year to scale Mount McKinley, also known by its indigenous name, Denali, only 234 have made the summit.
Snowfall and wind conditions have prevented the rest from reaching the summit.
Sunday June 17, 2012
It is now confirmed that the search for survivors, and the recovery efforts are being called off.
it is also noted that the avalanche, originally thought to have occurred on Thursday, happened on Wednesday morning.