The search has ended to recover the bodies of four Japanese climbers who were hiking up America's highest peak, Mount McKinley in Alaska. An avalanche is believed to have swept them off a hill and into a 100-foot-deep crevasse. More from the Associated Press:
Spokeswoman Kris Fister said Sunday from Talkeetna that the search for the climbers was permanently suspended after a mountaineering ranger found the climbing rope in debris at the bottom of the crevasse.
"We believe this is their final resting place," Fister said.
Yoshiaki Kato, 64, Masako Suda, 50, Michiko Suzuki 56, and 63-year-old Tamao Suzuki, 63, are missing and presumed dead.
The avalanche early Wednesday morning also pushed Hitoshi Ogi, 69, into the crevasse. Ogi climbed 60 feet out of the crevasse and reached a base camp Thursday afternoon.
Ogi had been attached to the other members of the team by climbing rope as they descended in an avalanche-prone section of the West Buttress Route. The rope broke in the avalanche and fall.
Climbers are warned of the avalanche risk in the area when they take a required briefing on the mountain. They were on a section known as Motorcycle Hill, which has a 35-degree slope. The avalanche itself was pretty shallow, measuring 200 feet wide and 800 feet top to bottom and creating a snow pile averaging only 3-4 feet deep. A total of six people have now died on the mountain during the summer climbing season.
MORE: World's Worst Avalanches
(Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)