Ranger killed during rescue of climbers on Mount Rainier

9:11 a.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Ranger killed during rescue of climbers on Mount Rainier

A ranger with Mount Rainier National Park died Thursday afternoon while rescuing climbers, two of whom had fallen into a crevasse.

By Alexa Vaughn

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Nick Hall, a climbing ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, fell 3,700 feet to his death Thursday afternoon, after helping rescue two climbers who had fallen into a crevasse, according to a park news release. The two women who fell into the crevasse were part of a party of four, two women and two men, from Waco, Texas.

As Hall, 34, was preparing some of the climbers for helicopter evacuation at 4:59 p.m., he fell down the mountain's northeast side from the 13,700-foot level. He was not moving after his fall, and attempts to contact him were unsuccessful, the release said.

Climbers reached him hours later and confirmed he had died.

Hall, a native of Patten, Maine, had been with the park's climbing program for four years, the release said. News of his death was withheld for several hours Thursday night until his next of kin could be notified.

The climbers who fell into the crevasse had slipped on their descent down Emmons Glacier after hiking to Mount Rainier's 14,411-foot summit around 1:45 p.m. Thursday.

As the two women were dangling inside the crevasse at the 13,700-foot level, one of the other climbers was able contact rescue rangers by cellphone.

The rescue team was able to reach the climbers fairly fast.

The two women climbers were pulled to safety by 3:10 p.m. The four climbers, who range in age from 18 to 53, have injuries from slipping and having a few hundred pounds of force yank on their harnesses at the end of the fall, but none are life-threatening, said Kevin Bacher, a park spokesman.

A rapidly lowering cloud ceiling and 40-mph winds made it tough for a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to reach the climbers, but three were eventually lifted away at around 9 p.m., Bacher said.

The fourth climber stayed on the mountain overnight with rescue rangers. If weather prevents a helicopter rescue in the morning, rangers will help her down the mountain on foot. The others are being treated at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Hall's death comes during what has already proved a difficult year for park staff. On New Year's Day, Ranger Margaret Anderson was fatally shot as she tried to stop a man who drove through a tire-chain checkpoint near Longmire. The man, Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, was suspected in a shooting in Seattle. His body was found the next day about a mile away.

Material from The Associated Press was

used in this report.

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or avaughn@seattletimes.com

9:22 a.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Oh, such a sad loss for the Rainier ranger's community and his family. The greatest cost of SAR is all too often not monetary. 

8:28 p.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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The group was roped up; I wonder if injuries or lack of knowledge prevented a self rescue.  Guess we’ll have to wait for more details.

Ed

9:32 p.m. on June 22, 2012 (EDT)
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I'm not sure of the exact location, but it sounds as if Hall was unroped and working to effect the evac efficiently in worsening conditions. My thoughts go out to his family. In our quests to challenge ourselves in nature, we sometimes forget about the men and women of SAR and the National Guard, who come out in often sketchy conditions to rescue the unfortunate or the unprepared. 

9:24 p.m. on June 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Very sad. I feel for those he left behind. At least he went with the highest level of honor, in service of others.. still sad though.

The group was roped up; I wonder if injuries or lack of knowledge prevented a self rescue.  Guess we’ll have to wait for more details.

Ed

"The four climbers, who range in age from 18 to 53...."

Have to wonder how many were on the "18" side and what their skill levels were.

1:41 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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Very sad when the rescuer does not make it back.

July 29, 2014
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