UPDATE, 6:45 a.m. – According to weather reports rescuers are likely to face cloudy weather and potential thunderstorms as they work today to retrieve the body of climbing ranger Nick Hall and help an injured woman from Waco, Texas, off the mountain. According to various reports the injuries to the four climbers Hall was working to rescue are not life threatening.
UPDATE, 6 a.m. - Rangers at Mount Rainier National Park are preparing for a 6:30 a.m. meeting. They plan to a launch effort this morning to recover the body of climbing ranger Nick Hall, 34, who died during an attempt to rescue four climbers yesterday. Rangers will also attempt to help one of the four climbers who fell into the crevasse yesterday. Rangers are hopeful the woman still on the mountain will be able walk out today, park spokesman Kevin Bacher said.
The three other climbers who fell into the crevasse on the Emmons Glacier were removed from the mountain by Chinook helicopter Thursday night and taken to Madigan Hospital.
Nick Hall of Patten, Maine, has worked four years in the climbing program. He is unmarried and has no children. He has been involved in several rescue and recovery efforts on the mountain.
According to his Facebook page, where friends started posting condolences earlier this morning, Hall attended Western State College of Colorado and also worked as a ski patroller at Stevens Pass, an avalanche forecaster at Yellowstone National Park and served in the Marines.
Hall is third climbing ranger to die in the line of duty on Mount Rainier.
Hall’s death impacts two outdoor communities reeling from deaths earlier this year. Mount Rainier law enforcement ranger Margaret Anderson was shot and killed Jan. 1. Stevens Pass’ marketing director Chris Rudolph and two other skiers were killed by an avalanche earlier this year.
- Craig Hill, staff writer
A Mount Rainier National Park ranger died tonight while trying to rescue a group of climbers who fell on the Emmons Glacier.
The Park Service identified the ranger as Nick Hall, 33, who has been with the park’s climbing program for four years. A native of Patten, Maine, Hall was not married and did not have children.
Three of the climbers Hall was trying to help were flown off the mountain. One more is expected to spend the night on the mountain with climbing rangers. Rescue attempts will be reassessed in the morning.
The incident began at 1:45 p.m. when the four-member group fell on the Emmons Glacier at 13,700 feet while returning from the summit. Two climbers slid into a crevasse. Another member of their group was able to use a cell phone and call for help.
Rescue attempts started just before 5 p.m. The Park Service said that as three climbers were being evacuated, Hall fell and slid more than 3,000 feet on the mountain’s northeast side.
Hampered by high winds and clouds, Chinook helicopters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord airlifted two climbers off the mountain and took them to Madigan Hospital. They arrived there at 9 p.m.
Climbing rangers found Hall’s body around 10,000 feet. A recovery effort will be launched in the morning.
This is the second on-the-job fatality in the park this year and only the fourth in the park’s 113-year history. Law enforcement ranger Margaret Anderson was shot and killed on Jan. 1. Climbing rangers Phil Otis and Sean Ryan fell and died trying to rescue a climber with a broken leg in 1995.
The Sunrise area, which had originally been scheduled to open Friday morning, will remain closed.