Recovering climbers deemed too dangerous

Published 10:15 am Monday, June 2, 2014

ELKO — A St. Paul man who presumably died on Mount Rainier in Washington state always showed an instinctive passion for climbing, his uncle said Sunday.

Even as a toddler, Mark Mahaney’s parents had trouble keeping him in his crib, Rob Mahaney said.

“His parents couldn’t keep him anywhere — he’d always find a way to get out of anything,” the uncle, who lives in Elko, told The Associated Press during a phone interview.

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He said his nephew never outgrew his rambunctious ways or lost his knack for climbing.

“He just loved to climb, he loved the outdoors, he loved the exhilaration of being in the wide-open,” Rob Mahaney said.

Mark Mahaney, 26, was in a group of six climbers who failed to return Friday after setting out Monday to summit Mount Rainier. Park officials have not identified any of the six yet, but Rob Mahaney said Mark was among them.

Park officials believe the climbers fell 3,300 feet from their last known whereabouts of 12,800 feet on Liberty Ridge. The area is susceptible to ice fall and rock fall, creating conditions so treacherous that officials say there are no immediate plans to recover the bodies.

Mark was an experienced climber who had reached the 14,410-foot glaciated peak once before, his uncle said.

Mark’s father and brother flew to Seattle on Saturday after they learned what happened.

Rob Mahaney said family members are doing their best to remain hopeful.

“There’s a glimmer of hope that there may still be some chance,” he said. “But it’s not looking good.”

Mark Mahaney graduated from Prior Lake High School southwest of St. Paul and then moved to St. Paul, where he became a quality-assurance analyst for a high-tech company, his uncle said.

The youngest of five children, Mark seemed to revel in physical activity from the day he could walk. Rob Mahaney recalled a 2-year-old Mark climbing on his parents’ table and taking a plastic bat to their chandelier.

“He was known for a lot of hijinks. The list can go on forever, but that one sticks out,” he said.

Mark had two loves in life: his girlfriend and climbing, Rob Mahaney said. Mark had been talking about getting married, he said.

There were no immediate plans for a funeral or memorial service, the uncle said.