Matt Hegeman, a climbing guide and resident of Truckee, California, has been identified as one of the six Mount Rainier climbers who likely fell to their deaths while trying to climb the mountain this weekend.
Alpine Ascents International, the organization that organizes tours of the mountain and other trails, posted a statement identifying Hegeman and Eitan Green as the two guides that were with the party.
The agency said Hegeman was “intense, philosophical and driven by the right way to do things.”
Here’s what you need to know about him:
1. He Was a Highly Respected Guide at Alpine Ascents
Hegeman worked for Alpine Ascents International, a mountain climbing guide service and gear shop headquartered in Seattle. According to Hegeman’s page on the Alpine Ascents site, he had worked as a guide for five years and had climbed mountains in Peru, Canada and Northern California.
Here’s the Apine Ascents’ full statement about Hegeman and Green:
Matt and Eitan are near and dear to all of us at Alpine Ascents. While often guiding on Rainier and in the Cascades, their skill level and passion for the mountains were always at the forefront of their time in the field. Matt, intense, philosophical and driven by the right way to do things, left an indelible mark on all around him. His pursuit for excellence was matched by his sense of camaraderie and humor. Eitan, quick with a smile and exuberant, had that infectious nature of guides who love their work and time in the mountains. His talent as a strong leader and critical thinker in the wilderness was unsurpassed.
Several people left comments remembering Hegeman on the Alpine Ascents Facebook page, including a man identified as Dave Cech, who said he’s climbed Mount Rainier with both Hegeman and Green.
2. He Climbed Mount Rainier More Than 50 Times
This is Matt Hegeman, one of six lost on Mt. Rainier. On KIRO 7 at 11 pm: How authorities think the fall happened. pic.twitter.com/7AH28qfVZR
— KIRO 7 (@KIRO7Seattle) June 1, 2014
Hegeman’s Ascents International bio says he’s climbed Mount Raineer more than 50 times on four routes, making it his most frequently climbed among major peaks. His bio says he’s also climbed Mount Shasta 35 times and Mount Whitney 24 times. Both of those mountains are in California.
3. He’s Married
According to his Facebook page, Matt Hegeman is married to Ericka Hegeman. Ericka’s profile page contains several pictures of her hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
4. He & Green Are the Second & Third Climbers to Be Identified
Hegeman and Green are the second and third climbers to be identified. Mark Mahaney, a Minnesota native and experienced climber, was identified by his uncle as being one of the six climbers lost on Mount Rainier.
5. Officials Have Declared Mount Rainier too Dangerous to Search
According to The Weather Channel, park officials at Mount Rainier have declared the area too dangerous to search due to the chance of avalanches and falling rocks. These risks have reaffirmed the idea that the six climbers did not survive the fall. The Weather Channel reports:
“There’s not a viable chance of survival,” park Ranger Fawn Bauer told The Associated Press.