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Expert warns of risks involved with climbing Mount Rainier

An Enumclaw man who has climbed Mount Rainier more than 100 times has advice for anyone attempting to reach the summit.

ENUMCLAW, Wash. — Paul Baugher of Enumclaw sees Mount Rainier every day. It’s a place he knows very well.

"I have 104 ascents. I have climbed a number of different routes, and they are all challenging, all beautiful. I have been doing it over a long career," Baugher said.

He understands the difficulties and dangers.

"Those are things that are natural forces; avalanches, rockfalls. Then there are other things we might manage ourselves, like not falling into a crevasse or losing our footing and sliding," Baugher said.

Baugher works with International Mountain Guides. He has led groups to the top, and there's also plenty of times when he's had to turn people around.

"You always have to be willing to pull the trigger and say, ‘Okay, today is not the day, now is not the time,’" he explained.

Two words stood out when Baugher heard about Wednesday's deadly rockfall on Mount Rainier: Liberty Ridge.

RELATED: Climber killed in Mount Rainier rockfall identified

“It is about 10,000 feet of continually steep snow and/or ice,” he said.

Liberty Ridge is known for being one of the more technical and advanced routes on the mountain. It is also where six climbers were camping in three separate parties of two when the rockfall happened. 

Arleigh William Dean, 45, of Alaska did not survive the rockfall. A 37-year-old climber was seriously injured.

"You can really relate to how tragic it is for these people that are good climbers doing something very great and challenging," said Baugher. "You just have to prepare as well as you can. Manage every risk just as well as you can. Pay every attention to detail. And sometimes that may still not be enough."

The U.S. National Park Service has a section on their website dedicated to safety tips for Mount Rainier.