SEATTLE -- A former University of Colorado student is missing and presumed dead after a weekend avalanche on Mount Rainier.

Mark Wedeven, 29, of Olympia, Wash., is the only climber who has not been rescued. Mount Rainier rangers pressed forward Tuesday with their search, after dangerous conditions kept crews off the mountain for more than two days, a park spokesman said.

Park officials assumed their search would be a recovery -- not rescue -- mission as Wedeven was believed dead, said Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher.

Wedeven's parents told KIRO-TV they believe their son died quickly in the early-morning avalanche Saturday doing what he loved. Wedeven, the father of a 5-year-old boy, had scaled Rainier numerous times, his parents said.

"He said to me, 'Mom, if I die on a mountain, don't worry about it,' and I'm sure it was instant and it was over," Carol Wedeven said to the news station.

Wedeven studied English at CU-Boulder, though university officials could not confirm Tuesday whether he graduated from the school. Wedeven was abducted and held briefly by Colombian guerrillas in 2003 while hiking in Central America as part of an independent study program.

Saturday's avalanche sent snow 1,200 feet down Mount Rainier's Ingraham Direct Route, overtaking 11 people climbing toward the summit. All but Wedeven were pulled from the snow by fellow climbers and some guides nearby.


Those caught in the avalanche included a party of three, a party of six and two solo climbers, including Wedeven. Most of the climbers were part of rope teams, which helped rescue efforts, Bacher said.

None of the rescued climbers was buried deeper than a foot, but two were blue by the time they were rescued.

Two people pulled from the snow were seriously injured and flown off the mountain to Madigan Army Hospital on Saturday morning. Bacher said he believes the injured climbers are doing well.

Wedeven had not been contacted by rangers about avalanche conditions because he had not stopped at Camp Muir to complete a climbing permit, Bacher said. The other solo climber also did not register or get a warning.

The number of people climbing the mountain typically increases dramatically this time of year, but it also can be a dangerous time to climb because of lingering winter storms alternating with spring or summer weather.

This pattern increases avalanche danger and the chances climbers will get caught in a storm and become lost.