By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An Intel vice president is among six climbers missing and presumed dead in the worst accident in three decades on Washington's Mount Rainier, the company said on Monday as search efforts for the group were scaled back.
The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker said Vice President Uday Marty had been among the climbers who likely fell about 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) from the north face of the mountain while they were ascending last week, caught in an avalanche of snow, rock and other debris.
"We are in contact with the appropriate authorities and we are providing support in this difficult time to Uday’s wife and other members of his family," Intel said, describing Marty as an accomplished engineer who was vice president and managing director for Intel South East Asia.
Rescue workers previously scaled back the search because of dangerous conditions, and a park spokeswoman said on Monday the operation had begun moving to a “limited continuous search effort” that would rely on aircraft deployed in the area for other tasks to check the site periodically.
Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Fawn Bauer said there were no plans to deploy ground searchers because of the risk of falling ice and rock. Park officials said previously there was no certainty a recovery was possible given the location.
The climbing party, including two guides from Seattle's Alpine Ascents International, set off last Monday for a five-day trek intended to take them up one of the toughest ascents of the ice-covered 14,100-foot (4,298-metre) massif.
They were last heard from via satellite phone on Wednesday evening, when they had reached a height of 12,800 feet (3,900 meters). The identities of the climbers have not been officially released.
(Additional reporting by Jimmy Lovaas in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)