UPDATE: At 4:47 p.m., as the sun sets searchers are making their way back to Paradise and all are expected to report in by 5 p.m. The search will continue Monday, said park spokeswoman Lee Taylor, and the road to Paradise will be closed above Longmire. Searchers spoke with backcountry campers who said they saw tracks leading down the Stevens Creek drainage, a common wrong way route for lost climbers and snowshoers. The drainage would lead to Stevens Canyon Road, which is closed for the winter.
UPDATE: At 3:33 p.m., the park distributed a statement from superintendent Randy King on why park roads will remain closed above Longmire tomorrow if the search is still in progress: “Time is of the essence in a search like this and we want to focus everything we’ve got on finding Yong Chun Kim.”
UPDATE: As of 2:15 p.m., the search for the missing Tacoma continues with number of searchers growing to 45. A team of German Shepherd dogs has been brought in to help, said park spokeswoman Lee Taylor. There is as much as 30 inches of fresh snow in some areas. If the search continues to tomorrow, the road from Longmire to Paradise will remain closed Monday.
A search is under way this morning at Mount Rainier National Park for a missing snowshoer.
Yong Chun Kim, 66, was leading a Tacoma hiking club on a snowshoe walk Saturday near Paradise when he slipped and fell down a steep slope, park spokeswoman Lee Taylor said.
“Part of the problem is because he was the trip leader and he was separated from the group they (group members) were not able to give a precise descriptions of the location” where Kim fell, Taylor said.
A member of the hiking party is trying to helped searchers find the exact place of the fall this morning, Taylor said. Taylor said descriptions sound as if the fall happened near the Skyline Trail above Paradise.
Kim, who is from Tacoma, was unable to climb back up the slope and said he would hike back to Paradise via a different route. When he had not returned by 3 p.m., the park launched a search that lasted until 9 p.m. Kim is an experienced snowshoer but does not have overnight camping gear or experience, Taylor said.
Kim was carrying a radio and last made contact with his hiking party at 2:30 p.m., Taylor said. Kim told them he was OK and on his way.
Weather conditions were severe at Paradise last night with winds gusting as high as 50 mph and blizzard conditions. The area received five inches of new snow overnight and harsh conditions are expected to continue today. The road from Longmire to Paradise is closed to the public today.
Twenty-five searchers are on the mountain today including members of the National Park Service and the Tacoma, Seattle and Everett Mountain Rescues.
Some of Kim’s family members and members of his hiking party are at Longmire today. The name of the hiking club remains uncertain.
On Dec. 13, a solo snowshoer from New York was found dead, apparently of hypothermia, near Paradise.