Recovery Hopes Fade As Glacier Claims JetRanger

 - May 7, 2008, 5:41 AM

The chartered Bell JetRanger that crashed into the ice-covered slopes of Mount Rainier last June has slid into a crevasse and seems to be beyond recovery. In so doing, the chartered helicopter joins a half-dozen other out-of-reach aircraft that festoon the slopes of the 14,410-ft peak. The helicopter was operated by Aero Copters, based at Boeing Field just outside Seattle, and was ferrying a park ranger and mountain guide to the site of a climbing accident June 25 when the aircraft spun out of control and hit the slopes of Carbon Glacier at about 8,800 ft, near Rainier’s Liberty Ridge.

The pilot, ranger and guide were all rescued, but the wreckage appears to have slid down into the heart of the glacier. Without wreckage to examine, investigators can do little to ascertain the cause of the crash. Aero Copters tried to hire a heavy-lift helo to hoist the JetRanger off the mountain soon after the mishap, only to find that no such equipment was available in the midst of the summer fire season. Rock slides have further covered the helicopter and recovery is considered doubtful.