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Stewart Green

Missing Climber on Mount Rainier Identified

By June 9, 2010

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The missing and presumed dead climber on 14,411-foot Mount Rainier is believed to be 27-year-old Mark Wedeven from Olympia, Washington. Wedeven, along with ten other climbers, was buried in an avalanche high on the Ingraham Glacier on Mount Rainier. Wedeven was climbing alone and had not registered with the National Park Service for a permit.

David Wedeven, his father, told reporters yesterday, "Undoubtedly, he is the climber that is up there." While his mother Carol said, "I think he's under the ice, and I think he's gone." She added, "He said to me, 'Mom, if I die on a mountain, don't worry about it,' and I'm sure it was instant and it was over." Mark Wedeven's body is still on Mount Rainier because bad weather and continued high avalanche danger makes it too difficult and risky for recovery. He is the 96th climber to die on Mount Rainier and the first climbing death since 2005. Park records indicate that there were only 0.18 fatalities per 1,000 climbers between 1998 and 2005.

Most of the climbers caught in the early Saturday morning avalanche were warned by Rainier climbing ranger Tom Payne at Camp Muir that the avalanche danger on the mountain's upper slopes were extreme. "Most of the parties decided not to climb," says Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher.

After the avalanche, the buried climbers were quickly located and dug out by climbing guides from International Mountain Guides and Rainier Mountaineering Inc., who were fortunately not caught in the slide. Most of the buried climbers were not wearing avalanche transceivers. Instead the guides had to use the traditional probe and poke method as well as follow ropes tied to the climber to find them. Most were buried under less than a foot of snow, but a couple climbers were already blue by the time they were pulled from the snow.

Despite the death of Mark Wedeven, the outcome of this climbing accident was better than could be expected in the extreme circumstances...it could have been much worse. There could have been 11 climbers pulled off the mountain.

Lessons learned: Don't let the promise of good weather after a prolonged spell of bad weather lure you upward; don't let the bad decisions that other climbers might be making influence your decisions; and lastly, always remember that it's okay to follow your intuition and turn around. The mountain will still be there tomorrow but you may not.

Photograph above: Mount Rainier, an active volcano, is one of America's most dangerous mountains for climbers. Photograph © Sunset Avenue Productions/Getty Images

Comments

June 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm
(1) marja says:

As a friend of the girlfriend who lost Mark, may I suggest that you consider your choice of words more carefully. No matter how much worse it could have been, when an outcome includes death, it can never be considered anything even close to wonderful!

June 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm
(2) Andrew says:

I second that marja. Mark was a good friend and father. Try explaining to his five year old son how “wonderful” it is.

June 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm
(3) Drew says:

Agreed. That was pretty callous, and not something I’d expect from a fellow climber.

June 9, 2010 at 5:36 pm
(4) Cathy says:

I agree. No one close to him and his family will ever totally recover from this tragedy. Many of us are grieving from the loss of Mark’s life. The outcome was NOT wonderful – it has been sadness of unfathomable proportions for his loved ones left behind.

June 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm
(5) Mat says:

I think what he means is, if the others had been up there first before Mark, theyre would have been several people missing and buried. Hope thats a small consolation for you.

I feel very sorry for your loss. Mark looks like he was an incredible, exceptional individual.

But calling something by any means ‘wonderful’ in the same sentence or paragraph is insensitive as it is wrong.

Sorry for your loss. Take care.

June 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm
(6) climbing says:

Agreed. I apologize for my word choice. Any loss of a fellow climber is a tragedy and I sincerely didn’t mean any disrespect to Mark or his friends and family. I’ve had many friends die in the mountains and I know the hurt and senselessness of it all. As the last comment indicates, the tragedy could have been much much worse with eleven climbers taken.

June 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm
(7) travis says:

Damn, after every article I read about this, I still don’t want to believe this. Just like When he was caught up in the jungle, I thought the worst. Hopefully he is now off on another adventure somewhere doin’ what he loves. I wished I could of kicked it with you you more time homie. Damn, this blows my mind.

June 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm
(8) Susan says:

It’s almost impossible to write an article about a tragedy like this without offending somebody. It’s so painful for the family, friends, and fellow mountaineers left behind, nerves are raw… I’ve lost friends in climbing accidents – including one in an avalanche – and I don’t think anything anyone could have said would have been what I wanted to hear. I just wanted my friend back. I didn’t know Mark, but if he’s like most mountaineers I know, he’d want us to honor his life in the same spirit in which he lived it: with loving care and respect for the outdoors, and for each other. We’re all in this together. Peace.

August 4, 2010 at 11:31 pm
(9) karen says:

I just watched marc w. on locked up abroad and was amazed at his bravery and stamina to survive that ordeal.I watched th whole thing thinking he was alive only to read at the end he died in this horrible acccient. I was stunned. I saw the look in his eyes when he talked about the others who had died in his place and he looked pained by it. He was probably haunted by it for the rest of his life. Now he is in peace. He seemed fated to live his life in his way. He has touched many strangers in his short life. God bless him and his family

August 5, 2010 at 12:39 am
(10) Kevin says:

I too just watched the episode of Locked Up Abroad featuring Mark W. and was very shocked to learn of his death on Mt. Rainer. May he rest in peace!

August 5, 2010 at 1:57 am
(11) Kevin (also) says:

What a surreal hour of my life;
I watch locked up abroad, learn of his death at the end, become intrigued and curious by it, go online afterwards and look up a few different articles on the event until I come across this one, read all the comments and then read the last two and realize that I would have written exactly what Karen wrote and then read the one by Kevin which is my name too.
.
Not trying to make this about me but I can’t believe the coincidence here . . . . . . but what I really wanted to say is that I wouldn’t have bothered to look him up at all if it weren’t for the light in him which the program brought out so very well. He seems like someone I would want to be friends with, seems so real and caring and honest and genuine.
.
But his age… (and not to be rude or mock him in any way) his age…27……almost makes me feel like he deserves some place among the others in the 27 Club…even though it was just for musicians….he seems more than good enough for it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club
.
May the universe reincarnate the positive vibrant energy of his spirit to the next worthy soul to be born. Rest in peace, comrade.

August 5, 2010 at 2:09 am
(12) Alan Musselman says:

What I think is amazing is he dies doing what he enjoyed to do in life! Rest in peace Mark!

August 5, 2010 at 2:14 am
(13) age says:

@kevin, he was 29, this article reported his age incorrectly

August 5, 2010 at 3:32 am
(14) Zach says:

I did not know Mark but God rest his soul and my prayers and heart goes out to his family and friends.

August 5, 2010 at 10:40 am
(15) tomcatt says:

I just watched NatGeo and this is the Mark that thought it would be a good idea to hike from Panama, into Colombia, and right through FARC territory — not smart. Several Panamanians, including a tribal elder, were murdered by a paramilitary group as a result of his selfish desire to live on the edge and endanger the lives of others in the process.

August 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm
(16) MWinston says:

Dear Tomcatt….your comment is not 100% accurate. You cannot blame the death of the tribal chief and his son (being left for dead) on only Mark. Even if they were lead back to the village by Victor, it was their choice to murder the innocent. True, decisions were made and people were killed but each of us has our own choices in this life and no one ‘makes’ us do anything…..there are always choices. It is saddening to hear of death whether by accident or by the hand of others, but we all make decisions and there are consequences to all decisions we make…good and bad.

August 5, 2010 at 2:40 pm
(17) Edwin says:

I, too, finished watching locked up abroad featuring Mark. As a fellow Colombian raised in the states I felt a connection with his story as he tried to get back to his roots. I was so relieved everything ended up well for the 3 travelers but later in dismay at the end of the show discovering his passing. It’s just sad, very sad. My best wishes and hopes to his friends, family and child. He seemed like he was a genuine good human being.

August 6, 2010 at 12:29 am
(18) patti says:

After viewing LUA and reading ending info on Mark my heart broke. I am an avid viewer of LUA, but, in this case, had no idea how peripherally connected one may be to the main character, Mark. My husband and two sons hiked Ranier on the June 30 hike. Myself, being a non-hiker and worrier – I was well aware of the avalanche involving Mark, as yet unidentified, and his event even precipitated a call to RMI with questions about avalanche conditions in late June. I send all my heartfelt sympathies to Mark’s family and friends. Nature is intoxicating, powerful, and unfortunately at times unforgiving. May all Mark’s joyous moments stay forever young.

August 6, 2010 at 8:02 pm
(19) Kevin (also) says:

@age
Yes, I did read he was 29 in another article but disregarded it as being the false age, I guess nevermind the whole 27 thing I wrote. But he truly and quite literally DID live fast and die young, a romanticism we all, at times, are drawn to, but to very few of us it is a life are brave enough to fulfill. And I love that he did not have a traditional ceremonial service, it fits so well! So again, may his spirit live forever more alongside the ninety-five other fallen adventurers.

August 6, 2010 at 8:27 pm
(20) AdventurerRW says:

Rest in peace my friend.

August 7, 2010 at 8:29 pm
(21) climbing says:

So very sad. Mark sounds like an amazing young man. The loss of every climber diminishes all of us. Rest in peace Mark, and see you on the other side of the mountain…

August 20, 2010 at 5:49 am
(22) simon says:

Just watched the Locked Up Abroad on Mark. I had a friend who was killed in an avalanche in February while skiing the southeast face of the Tetons, and it is truly sad to see such an adventurous and free spirit such as Mark killed in the same way. Wray also died doing what he absolutely loved, and this story hit home – Wray was just 30 years old. I am now 32, but lived for many years in Seattle, and wish I’d had a chance to meet Mark. I am sorry for the tragic loss and wish the best to his young son and Girlfriend. He should be remembered as a truly inspirational man, even to those who did not get the chance to know him.

August 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm
(23) jim says:

I just watched locked abroad and he seems like a great person.

That said he certainly did not listen to other people ( and use common sense) when he was warned about traveling down there which easily could have easily got him killed along with his traveling companions (he was vextremily lucky to get out alive). Then he goes moutain climbing after being warned about very dangerous avalanche conditions on one of the biggest mountains in the U.S . It was a matter of time before he got himself killed with his idealistic attitude which kept him from seeing reality and the dangers that it reveals.

RIP

September 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm
(24) Wayne says:

We are sensitive enough to be offended by the use of “wonderful” by the author but we also miss the point that this was Mark’s choice to put himself in harms way and climbing alone.He depriving his son of a father for the rest of his life. Let’s not loose our objectivity because of emotion.

December 13, 2010 at 7:26 pm
(25) Brit1717 says:

R.I.P Mark, sounds like he lived life to it’s fullest

December 27, 2010 at 11:23 am
(26) Translator says:

Having translated many LUAs into Hebrew, Mark’s story left me exceptionally emotional and sad. Family and friends, you can take great pride in the moral and ethics of this young man. May he rest in peace.

January 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm
(27) Andy L says:

Edward Thomas was 37 when he enlisted in 1915; unlike most of the other WWI poets, he had a wife and two children when he decided he could no longer sit out the war. One of his poems entitled: In Memorian (Easter 1915) is immediately below

The flowers left thick in night fall
This Eastertide call in into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will never do again

Edward Thomas was killed the day after Easter in 1917

January 3, 2011 at 12:17 pm
(28) Hec. says:

i just finished watching an episode of Locked Up Abroad. The episode in which Mark was featured in. What a life he lived. Was he destined to have died a short life?

January 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm
(29) ATL says:

I pray for his 5 year old son. Some risks are to great when you have young children.

January 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm
(30) The Truth says:

The actual truth is Mark was an ungrateful, selfish human being to the extreme. So much so, he got other people killed.
And yes getting people killed indirectly also counts. If you don’t believe me just ask the relatives. He now leaves a 5 year old son fatherless to suffer, and a girlfriend. Not that Mark cares, since all he ever thought about was himself.

January 5, 2011 at 3:52 am
(31) Stephen says:

Some people in this comment section have no respect.I too just finishes watching Locked Up Abroad , and i could tell this was a caring , giving individual. He might have made some mistakes in his life who hasnt? But that is no reason to tarnish the memory of him.I got the feeling watching the show that this man loved life , and tried to find as much happiness in his life as he could.He hasnt left his son alone , he wont be hear physically but i guarantee he will walk with his son every step that he takes. Its a shame to loose people like Mark Wedeven. R.I.P brother and may god bless your family and friends.

March 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm
(32) Christina says:

I agree with some of you when you say he was a selfish person…from what I’ve seen and read about Mark, he was looking for death. All of that soul searching should have stopped when he had his son. Poor kid no father, I hope he learns from his father’s mistakes.

RIP

March 26, 2011 at 11:26 pm
(33) Dena says:

Stop saying that! Stop! Is it not bad enough that he’s…Stop! You can’t decide he was selfish! You never knew him! You shouldn’t say that he was careless! This man never knew his real parents. If that was me, I would go to! You think he didnt care about those people? You think he didnt care about his son and his girlfriend? Who are you? Just because you sit all comfy behind a computer while people go deep within themselves find the determination and bravery it takes to come out alive from a paramilitary group in Columbia! Be ashamed of yourselves! Keep what you believe to yourselves and give condolences, because this man was also an activist in society and stood up against injustice!

Also…I saw his story on NatGeo today, my sympathy to his friends and family, but….I know there isnt much chance he’s alive but i still think a search for his body is a good idea….i dont know, im sorry, but its been bugging me all day and I just don’t feel like he’s actually…dead. I dont know. Just wanted to say. Its been driving me crazy.

May 23, 2011 at 3:25 am
(34) Aunt says:

For the record, Mark was a driven young man in search of his roots when he hiked from Panama. Mark also reported feeling tremendous sadness for what his actions set in play in Panama and openly confessed this to the world. Debating his actions after the facts helps no one. The world will continue to miss him while we still hold memories of him in our minds as an intrepid climber, silly and loving father, earnest friend, rascal carpenter, and easy listener, among many other deserving titles. As the anniversary of this fateful day nears, let us stop throwing stones and remember him fondly with grace!

June 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm
(35) juan says:

If you are looking for your roots in a far off county you take a plane to the site,not walk in a jungle that is full of people who want to kill you. Regarding the climb on mt. rainier, why didn’t he check the weather report before he stated his climb. very odd. It like if you are going deep see fishing you check and make sure their are no storms coming your way..

September 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm
(36) Columbian Colin says:

Mark was very naive to carry on towards gunfire in the jungle when locals were fleeing. He survived that, but was naive once again to climb Ranier when he was warned against it. He died as a consequence of his actions when many would have realised the dangers.
Brave or plain stupid?
Either way i’m sure this man had great morals & loved his family. RIP

September 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm
(37) Gatsomax says:

Just saw Mark on LUA. You could truly see the good nature of this bloke in his eyes, regardless of what he chose to do with his life, and regardless of how much people want to analyse, reanalyse and question it.

RIP Mark.

September 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm
(38) adam says:

He had already survived a terrible ordeal in Columbia and still decided to risk his life again after being warned. Brave man but very silly. Should have thought of his son.

October 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm
(39) Shelter says:

RIP mark. People stop saying all those nasty comments we all gona die at some point, we cant avoid death it was God’s will am jus finishn watchn natgeo

October 31, 2011 at 11:23 am
(40) Anthony says:

Hindsight is always 20/20 but the facts are some bad judgements were made in that climb due to the lack of equipment and severe chance of avalanche. That been said unpopular, we can all dream of living the way Mark did and being adventurous. RIP…

November 6, 2011 at 5:06 am
(41) Tara says:

RIP Mark, your in a safe place now!!!

April 26, 2012 at 1:10 am
(42) Joe says:

I read the article three times … I never saw the word “wonderful” in it at all. I saw “Despite the death of Mark Wedeven, the outcome of this climbing accident was better than could be expected in the extreme circumstances…it could have been much worse. There could have been 11 climbers pulled off the mountain.” What part of that isn’t true? No disrespect to Mark, but he seemed to have some kind of death wish. If he had any common sense, he certainly didn’t use it.

April 26, 2012 at 2:14 am
(43) matt says:

Thank you joe….
I re-read the article numerous times as well looking for the word that offended so many people. I assume this page was not the article in its entirety, or the blogger editted it. I only caught the last ten minutes of LUA and was shocked at the dedication at the end. But the little i saw was enough to see the genuine hurt he felt for the fate of others. Who are we to judge though anyway. How many parents have neglected to put a seatbelt on since having children? Has every father sold his motorcycle? Has every mother stopped gunnin it to beat that yellow light? My point isn’t that they’re equal risks. It is that as a society, we assign ourselves as judge and juries of others all too often. It’s no longer relevant what total strangers think of his decisions. He is gone and cannot defend himself. Nor should he have to. To his family and friends losing him is profound and that there speaks volumes of the kind of person he was. i look forward to watching the full episode because he looks to be someone worth knowing about. To his friends and family i pray you find peace. It must be an enormous loss. R.I.P. Mark

April 26, 2012 at 3:14 am
(44) Lulu says:

I saw the show too. I as well can not believe what happened. It’s heartbreaking. I kept thinking he went through and survived all of that just to die while hiking? I liked what it said in the article about what he told his mother. Not to worry about him if he died on a mountain. Wow. Prophetic words. And to the previous comments it was someones comment that said it was a wonderful way for him to die. Clearly they meant he would have wanted it that way. Not that it was wonderful that he died. People get their panties in a twist over their own misinterpretations and make other people feel bad. I really don’t think the guy meant any harm. I think everyone should die doing what they love. It’s terrible that he is gone but no one should throw stones. Shame on those that do. I guess they have never done anything reckless such as text and drive or even drink and drive! Yeah. Whatever. I guess little people feel bigger when they bash innocent people who instead of just waste their life and let it pass them by chased their dreams and took advantage of the breath in their lungs. I say good for mark! He should be an example to us all. And btw sooo many people do risky things like climb mountains or jump off building all the time because that’s what they love to do. Those people are living! God bless you all!!! Rip mark! You will be sorely missed!

April 26, 2012 at 10:29 am
(45) olivia says:

I finished watching LUA last night and have not been able to get Mark out of my mind. He did so much and seemed to live such a full and beautiful life; one that many wish they had the courage to live. I guess what was so striking about Mark was his reaction on Locked up Abroad. It’s rare that someone would be so connected and open with their emotions. I feel as though I know him. To all of his friends and family- the 30 minutes I spent listening to Mark tell his story, only to later find out her had died mountain climbing- I feel as though he has left a mark on my life. I’m sure others feel the same. What a free and beautiful soul.

May 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm
(46) MayMay says:

I just watched Locked Up Abroad….may Mark rest in peace. He did seem like an amazing guy and someone anyone would’ve loved to have as a friend. God bless his soul.

May 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm
(47) voice reason says:

Just saw locked up abroad with Mark. My late condolences to the family. Yes, it could have been worse, but just losing one person is definitely bad enough. I hope that people learn something from this incident.
This was a completely preventable death. After living through the colombian experience, one would think that anything can happen to anyone at anytime. No one gets a free pass in life, just lucky. Warnings are for a reason. As long as we make choices, we should be able to accept the consequences, period! It is life. RIP

May 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm
(48) dave says:

was touching really glad he made it to climb to where he wanted to, we all can choose our own fate, maybe he did , rip he lived an amazing life!who wants to die in gods hands my mother did in 1982, i wish she died in my hands , i was 12 never got to speak to her as a man . he was on a quest i hope i die on 1. (update)still alive im a steel worker and roofer(he, mark)lives in me wooot!

May 7, 2012 at 8:32 am
(49) Stone says:

RIP Mark. I share a lot with your view and passion to explore life. Watch after us my friend.

June 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm
(50) October Mist says:

The writer did not say it was “wonderful” as someone put it. He was saying that the outcome could have been much more than one casualty. It is sad to lose someone u love but he could have taken more precautions as the author noted. I saw this person on an episode of Locked up Abroad and he was blessed.

July 3, 2012 at 6:07 am
(51) ali says:

rest in peace

August 28, 2012 at 4:07 am
(52) tondani says:

like many who left comments here,i was watching Locked Up Abroad and then came the last sentence.stunned,i decided to look him up on internet because it was hard to believe that he’s gone.i don’t know the guy,but i am touched.may his soul rest in peace…

August 31, 2012 at 11:52 am
(53) brainlets says:

I feel sad of his death.:( rest in peace Mark.

April 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm
(54) Aud says:

Was Mark’s body ever recovered? RIP

July 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm
(55) Robert says:

Yes stupid

December 18, 2013 at 10:34 am
(56) Jefe says:

I’ll never understand these people that always need to be putting themselves in harm’s way. Just seems senseless to me.

January 1, 2014 at 11:48 pm
(57) Scott says:

I see the word “hero” being thrown around carelessly by fellow commenters. What did he do that was heroic? He put himself in danger several times and it finally caught up to him. It’s sad, but it’s the truth. People were hurt/killed because of his need to live on the edge. Don’t call him a hero just because he was on locked up abroad and you were shocked by the ending.

February 17, 2014 at 8:08 am
(58) Jess says:

just watched the programme about Mark and his ordeal in Columbia. I kept thinking thank god he got out of there alive. I googled his name to find out more about him and discovered that he’d died a feew years later. How horrible. Truly horrible. He seemed to be a lovely guy and a hellof a good looking ine at that. What a waste of beauty. My thoughts and sympathies go to his parents. rip mark

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