WATERVILLE — A former Colby College student who was among six people reported missing while attempting to scale Mount Rainier and presumed dead will be remembered as an engaged and active student, according to college officials.

Eitan Green, a 2009 graduate of the college and an anthropology major, was one of two mountain guides for Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International. The group was reported missing Thursday.

The climbers are believed to have fallen thousands of feet from the Washington state mountain’s Liberty Ridge, in what would be the most deadly accident on the mountain since 11 people were killed by an avalanche in 1981.

“We all knew him very well. He was an honors student and an absolutely beloved student,” said Catherine Besteman, a professor of anthropology and the incoming chair of the department. She said she taught Green in three classes while he was a student.

“He was very engaged and active. He was somebody who was very much alive. He was engaged in both the world of ideas and with his peer community,” said Besteman. “He was a delight to have in the classroom because he really cared about learning and he cared about interacting with his peers and developing his knowledge.”

Originally from Needham, Massachusetts, Green was a member of the college’s mountaineering club, said Stephen Collins, a spokesman for the college. He graduated magna cum, said Collins. His honors thesis was an analysis of the global climbing community.

“It was an interest of his while he was a student here for sure,” said Collins.

Green lived in Seattle and worked as a mountain guide for Alpine Ascents, which leads excursions including climbs on some of the world’s tallest mountains, since 2009, according to the website for the group. A short biography says that he climbed and trekked all over the world, including in India, Nepal, Alaska and Argentina.

“Eitan is based in Seattle where he runs stairs and rock climbs to train for the next adventure. It is his goal to help climbers find the right balance of fun and challenge in devising and fulfilling their ambitions in the mountains,” the biography says.

A statement regarding the accident says that Green and fellow guide Matthew Hegeman were highly skilled guides who were passionate about the mountains.

“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,” it says.

A June 5 memorial service will be held at Levine Chapels in Brookline, Mass.

It may be weeks or months – if ever – before rescuers can get on the ground to search for six climbers.

Park rangers and rescuers often are able to retrieve bodies within days of an accident, but sometimes it takes weeks or months, when conditions have improved and snow has melted on parts of the mountain.

Occasionally victims are never found, as in the 1981 tragedy. The same is true of a non-alpine accident in which a cargo transport plane crashed into the mountain in 1946 – the bodies of 32 Marines remain entombed.

“The mountain is so inaccessible and can be inhospitable. We can’t always retrieve everybody who is lost there, unfortunately,” said Patti Wold, a spokeswoman with Mount Rainier National Park.

The bodies of the six climbers who fell to their deaths last week on the 14,410-foot glaciated peak may never be recovered because of the hazardous terrain, authorities say.

“The degree of risk in that area, due to the rock fall and ice fall that’s continuously coming down from that cliff onto the area where the fall ended, we cannot put anybody on the ground,” Wold said.

It’s unclear whether the climbers were moving or camping at the time of the accident, Wold said this past weekend. Searchers located camping and climbing gear and detected signals from avalanche beacons buried in the snow at the top of the Carbon Glacier at 9,500 feet in elevation.

It’s also not known what caused the climbers to fall from their last known whereabouts at 12,800 feet on Liberty Ridge, whether it was rock fall or an avalanche. They were last heard from at 6 p.m. Wednesday when the guides checked in with their Seattle-based company, Alpine Ascents International, by satellite phone. The group failed to return Friday as planned.

Alpine Ascents identified the lead guide as Matthew Hegeman. He was described as intense, philosophical and always in the pursuit of excellence with a good sense of humor.

The Seattle Times reported Monday that Seattle mountain climber John Mullally was one of the six who died. His wife, Holly Mullally, issued a statement Monday saying that she had previously been on climbs organized by the company, and had also climbed with Hegeman.

“I respected his leadership and found him to be experienced, skilled, appropriately conservative, thoughtful, and someone who I could count on to keep my husband safe, barring tragedy beyond our control,” Holly Mullally wrote of Hegeman.

Rob Mahaney told The Associated Press that his 26-year-old nephew, Mark Mahaney, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was among those presumed dead. He said the climber’s father and brother flew to Seattle on Saturday after learning what happened. Mahaney said his nephew had climbed Rainier before.

The area will be checked periodically by air in the coming weeks and months, Wold said. They will also evaluate the potential for a helicopter-based recovery as snow melts and conditions change.

In 2012, park rangers recovered the bodies of three climbers about eight months after they disappeared during unrelenting storms on Mount Rainier.

In 2001, the body of a 27-year-old doctor was discovered more than two years after he vanished while snowboarding on the mountain. Also that year, the remains of three men were removed from the mountain after being entombed there for nearly 30 years after their small plane crashed. A hiker and former climbing ranger found the wreckage of the single-engine aircraft that crashed in January 1972.

The Associated Press and Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Rachel Ohm contributed to this report.