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Bellingham climber’s body recovered

Susan Bennett of Bellingham is shown in an undated climbing trip.
Susan Bennett of Bellingham is shown in an undated climbing trip. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A North Cascades National Park rescue team has recovered the body of a Bellingham woman who died last month in a mountain climbing accident, even as family and friends were attending a memorial Saturday that celebrated her life.

Susan Bennett, 61, died July 22 while descending Forbidden Peak, one of the region’s most picturesque and treacherous rock faces.

Bennett, a well-known mountaineer, fell several hundred feet into a crevasse on the Forbidden Glacier while climbing with three other mountaineers. They were rappelling from the 8,816-foot summit east of Marblemount in the Cascade Pass area.

A helicopter crew found her body on the day she died, but three recovery attempts were thwarted by weather, conditions on the ground, and a separate critical rescue.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Susan Bennett,” said North Cascades National Park Service Complex Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich in a statement.

A technical rope operation was required to recover Bennett’s body, according to a statement from North Cascades National Park. The Skagit County Sheriff’s and coroner’s offices worked with national parks officials, the statement said.

National Parks officials were unavailable Monday for further comment.

Bennett’s husband Craig Convery of Bellingham couldn’t be reached Monday, but he’s previously thanked parks officials for their efforts.

There was a memorial service Saturday afternoon for Bennett, who was a dental hygienist at Galbraith Mountain Dentistry, which served children. She lived in Bellingham since 1978, after moving from Southern California, and had been married for 28 years, according to her biography at the dentist’s website.

She was active in the Bellingham Mountaineers group and well-known at the Whatcom Family YMCA, where she inspired and encouraged female climbers, taught classes and volunteered during the Y’s family-oriented climbing hours.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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