Mount Rainier ranger killed in climbers' rescue
Friday, June 22, 2012
LONGMIRE, Wash. (AP) — A Mount Rainier ranger slid more than 3,000 feet to his death as he helped in efforts to rescue four injured climbers who fell on a glacier, a National Park Service spokesman said.
Ranger Nick Hall was helping to prepare the climbers to be taken from the 14,411-foot Washington state peak when he fell shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, said Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher.
Bacher said Hall, 34, didn't respond to attempts to contact him and was not moving, and he was dead when other rangers reached him at the 10,000-foot level several hours later.
Park officials notified relatives and other rangers before announcing Hall's death late Thursday.
A Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord plucked three of the injured climbers off the Cascade Range mountain Thursday night while one member of the party from Waco, Texas, remained overnight, waiting out a worsening storm in the company of park rangers.
Bacher said all four had injuries that were not life-threatening. None was immediately identified.
Worsening visibility and 40 mph winds kept rescuers from removing all four climbers late Thursday.
Storms on Mount Rainier are notoriously fierce and obstinate.
About 10,000 people attempt to summit the massive volcano each year, with most doing so in the summer. Only a few hundred climb the iconic mountain in the winter.
The Texas climbers were roped together when they fell on Emmons Glacier on Thursday. The two women at the end of the rope ended up in a crevasse. Rangers who responded to a cell phone call helped them out.
Hall is originally from Patten, Maine, the park spokesman said. He had been with Mount Rainier National Park's climbing program for four years.
His death comes during what has proven a difficult year for park staff.
On New Year's Day, Mount Rainier Ranger Margaret Anderson was fatally shot as she tried to stop a man who drove through a tire chain checkpoint near Longmire. The 24-year-old man, Benjamin Colton Barnes, was suspected in a shooting early New Year's Day in Seattle, and his body was found the next day about a mile away in the snow.
In mid-January, an elite mountain rescue team went up the mountain in search of two campers and two climbers who failed to return during a storm. The four were not found.
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