Chances of finding four missing climbers and campers alive on Mount Rainier grew more remote Monday.

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Mount Rainier

Search on Rainier will be limited

Chances of finding four missing climbers and campers alive on Mount Rainier grew more remote Monday as an intensive search turned up no sign of them and another storm approached.

A break in a stretch of powerful blizzards gave 40 ground searchers and three aircraft crews their best shot yet. Some teams were expected to continue searching Tuesday, weather permitting.

“We will continue to search in a limited capacity, but we will start pulling out resources,” said National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold. “It could be like so many other searches ongoing in the park — we never close a case unless we find someone.”

Mark Vucich, 37, of San Diego, and Michelle Trojanowski, 30, of Atlanta, were due to return from a snow-camping trip Jan. 15. Climbers Sork “Erik” Yang, of Springfield, Ore., and Seol Hee Jin, of Korea, were due back from a summit attempt Jan. 16.

Vucich’s stepmother, Fay Vucich, of Auburn, said the news was disheartening.

“We’ll just have to continue to wait and see,” she said.

Blizzards packing heavy snows and winds of more than 60 mph hindered rescue efforts over the past week, but small elite teams of mountaineers had been able to canvass areas around Camp Muir, at the 10,000 foot level. The snow is 15 feet deep, with drifts topping 50 feet, the Park Service said.

Searchers on skis and snowshoes took advantage of clear skies Monday to check areas they had not previously reached, including Mazama Ridge, lower Paradise Glacier, and an area north and east of Lake Louise where disoriented parties often wind up. They also checked the White River campground, in case the climbers headed down that way after summiting.

Two helicopters and a State Patrol plane with heat-sensing technology searched the upper parts of the 14,411-foot mountain.

Park rangers said the climbers and campers were well-equipped with tents, avalanche beacons, crampons and other essential gear. The climbers had GPS and an altimeter, but none of the four had skis or snowshoes.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for the area Tuesday and Wednesday, saying snow and winds of more than 70 mph were expected.


Public’s help sought in case

The King County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in solving the 1985 disappearance of a 19-year-old Skyway woman.

The Sheriff’s Office also hopes to develop information that could tie the disappearance to a man serving a life sentence for the slaying of a Seattle woman.

Virginia “Anne” Rambus was last seen on May 22, 1985, leaving her apartment in the 6800 block of South 123rd Street to go to a party with an unknown friend.

Detectives want to hear from anyone who has information that may link Rambus to Jesse C. Pratt, who lived near Rambus at the time of her disappearance. Witnesses have told detectives that Pratt knew Rambus.

Pratt, who used the nickname “The Candy Man,” had contact with many of the teens in the area where he lived. He has a long history of violence against women and is currently in an Oregon prison for the 1986 slaying of Carrie Love, 20, in Klamath Falls, Ore., according to the Sheriff’s Office.

During the time of Rambus’ disappearance Pratt had access to a yellow 1978 Cadillac Eldorado.

Anyone with information on Rambus is asked to call sheriff’s Detective Scott Tompkins at 206-205-7810.


Kalakala hit hard by storms

Recent storms have apparently been hard on the historic ferry Kalakala. It’s listing at its mooring at the Port of Tacoma.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Nathan Bradshaw says a sheen also has been reported around the vessel, so investigators were dispatched Monday.

The 276-ferry has been parked for six years at the Hylebos Waterway.

Corps of Engineers spokesman Bill Dowell says if the agency has to step in to keep the vessel from blocking or polluting the waterway, the Kalakala would probably be dismantled.

The silver, streamlined ferry sailed on Puget Sound from 1935 to 1967. It later became a fish-processing ship in Alaska. The Kalakala was towed back to Washington in 1998 with the idea it would be restored, but no one came up with the money.


Pedestrian killed was leaving car?

A man walking on Highway 526 in Everett was killed Monday morning when he was struck by a vehicle.

According to Everett police, the man is believed to have been walking away from his vehicle, which had spun out on a patch of ice, when he was struck by a sport-utility vehicle around 5 a.m.

The eastbound lanes of the highway, also known as the Boeing Freeway, were shut down after the collision until 7:20 a.m.

“We’re not exactly sure why the pedestrian was in the roadway. We are looking into the possibility of a single-vehicle spinout at the same location with a vehicle that ended up in the grassy median,” said police spokesman Sgt. Robert Goetz.

Police did not release the name of the man killed. The collision occurred near Seaway Boulevard.

Times staff and news services