Eugene Mountain Rescue volunteer talks spring climbing safety

      EUGENE, Ore. -- With spring season climbing accidents reported on mountains across the Pacific Northwest, experts are warning climbers to be careful when tackling summits still covered with thawing snow and ice.

      Melting snow prevented rescuers from searching for six missing climbers on Mount Rainier in Washington this weekend. National park officials said it's likely the climbers fell 3,300 feet to their deaths.

      "Those beacons and the climbing gear and everything else came down over 3,300 feet - down almost a sheer cliff - and it's inconceivable that someone could have survived a fall like that," said Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold.

      The effort to find the six climbers on Mount Rainier comes just a day after crews rescued a 59-year-old man from Mount Hood.

      Mick Davis of Eugene Mountain Rescue said experience is key whenever a climber takes on terrain that has a mix of rocks and thawing ice.

      "In order to minimize those factors, you want to be experienced and trained in the terrain you're operating in," said Davis, "Travel in groups and let someone know where you're going."

      Davis said climbers should carry a whistle to alert search teams and call for help. As cell service is often spotty, he feels no climber should rely on a cell phone.

      Experts said it's best to stay put and wait for rescue teams if you get lost or stranded.