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Nick Hall: Officials assessing danger threat before proceeding with recovery attempt

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on June 27, 2012 at 8:22 am with No Comments »
June 27, 2012 10:09 am
Backcountry intern Kris Youtz raises the flag to half staff at the White River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park early this morning. The weather is clear, but the snow and ice conditions may further delay the recovery of the body of climbing ranger Nick Hall who fell to his death Thursday during an operation to rescue a climbing party high on the Emmons Glacier. (Peter Haley/Staff photographer)

Incident commanders are trying to assess snow and ice conditions on the Emmons Glacier to determine if it is safe to attempt the recovery of the body of Mount Rainier National Park climbing ranger Nick Hall.

This morning’s conditions, sunny and little wind, are near ideal for a helicopter to attempt the recovery.

But the sun might also loosen snow, ice and rock above the spot where Hall’s body came to rest after falling 2,500 feet Thursday, threatening anyone on the ground.

Hall was in the middle of rescuing four Texas climbers when he fell. Officials are unsure, at this moment, what caused the accident.

His body came to rest at 11,300 feet on the north side of the mountain, in an area prone to avalanches. Compounding the danger is the almost three feet of new snow that fell in the area in the days following the accident.

“We’re committed to bringing Nick back and we’ll do that as long as we can do that safely,” park superintendent Randy King said in an interview Tuesday. “It will still require a pretty good assessment of the risks before we put people in there.”

Hall, who has worked at the park for four years, is the third climbing ranger to die on the mountain. He also is the eighth person to die on the mountain since December, including law enforcement ranger Margaret Anderson, who was shot and killed New Year’s Day.

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