Rescuers trying to reach a climber who was stranded on Mount Rainier found a massive slide near where the man was last seen -- a slide a park spokeswoman said was "not survivable." The search for the man was suspended Tuesday night.
The rescuers found gear belonging to the climber in the spot where two fellow climbers left him on Monday when they sought help for their companion, who was suffering from hypothermia and frostbite, said Patti Wold of Mount Rainier National Park.

"The ground crew was able to confirm that the site where he had been left by his partners, that they did not find him there," Wold said, adding that "the helicopter spotted a slide that left from that spot and went 2,000 feet down at a 50-degree slope."

She said a helicopter crew's "intense visual search of that area" also failed to find any sign of the climber, and that anyone swept away by the slide could not have survived.
Friends identified the missing climber as Robert Plankers, 50, of Olympia.

Plankers was on the Liberty Ridge route to the summit of Mount Rainier when he encountered trouble, apparently becoming hypothermic as the party faced cold temperatures and high winds.
His climbing partners went for help and reached rangers at about 5 p.m. on Monday, Wold said.

Wold said two ranger teams left Camp Schurman and Camp Muir to find the stranded climber, but encountered high winds Monday night. One team had to turn back, and one had to take shelter in a snow cave.

Plankers has climbed Mount Rainier at least five times before and was well-equipped, said Plankers' friend and boss, Joe Hyer, owner of an outdoor equipment store in Olympia.

"There's a lot of anxiety," Hyer said earlier in the day. "All the friends and all the family we're hearing from and throughout the industry, all over the country, people are worried now.
Thoughts and prayers are with him. His wife is, I think, handling it quite well."

Plankers has worked for more than a decade at Alpine Experience, Hyer's store.

The Liberty Ridge route is one of the more technical routes to the summit of the 14,410-foot mountain. Plankers was last seen at about the 13,600-foot level.