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Feb 21st
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Home National & State Parks Other NPs Rescue of Final Mt. Rainier Climber, Recovery of Ranger’s Body, Continues

Rescue of Final Mt. Rainier Climber, Recovery of Ranger’s Body, Continues

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White-out conditions at 10,000 feet continue to hamper rescue efforts to bring the final climber off Mt. Rainier, a rescue attempt that claimed the life of National Park Service Ranger Nick Hall on Thursday, June 21, 2012.

As of late afternoon Friday, a spokesperson for Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington said efforts to bring both climber Stacy Wren safely off the mountain, and recover the body of Hall, were continuing.

nicholas_on_rainier"It's very rough up there right now," the spokesperson said. "It's white-out up there and raining heavily here where we are, and they're taking it nice and easy."

A team of National Park Service climbing rangers is attempting to walk down from 13,700 feet on the Emmons Glacier with Wren, the final climber from the group of four involved in Thursday's incident.

Wren overnighted on the mountain with the climbing rangers after her climbing partners Stuart Smith, Ross Vandyke and Noelle Smith were airlifted off the mountain last night. The three are currently hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

A recovery ground team is en route to Hall's location. They are currently at Camp Schurman at 9,500 feet.

Hall was a four-year veteran of Mount Rainier National Park's climbing program, and a native of Patten, Maine. He was unmarried and has no children, the spokesperson said.

The recovery team's mission now is to bring Hall's body down the mountain. They are encountering heavy precipitation and thickening clouds. The spokesperson said as of late afternoon that it is uncertain if they will complete their recovery mission Friday.

Air operations are currently grounded by the unfavorable weather. Air operations are supported by a Chinook helicopter and crew from Joint Base Lewis McChord and an MD500 from Northwest Helicopters.

According to the park's spokespersom, the incident began at about noon Thursday.

A party of four climbers from Waco, Texas fell at the 13,700 foot level of the Emmons Glacier as they were returning from a summit attempt on Mount Rainier.

Two members of the party slid into a crevasse. A third member of the group was able to call for help using a cell phone.

During the subsequent rescue, at 4:59 p.m. as the first of the climbers were being evacuated by helicopter, Mount Rainier climbing ranger Hall fell, sliding more than 3,000 feet down the side of the mountain.

According to reports, he did not respond to attempts to contact him and was not moving.

High winds and a rapidly lowering cloud ceiling made rescue efforts extremely difficult, but with the help of Chinook helicopters from Joint Base Lewis McChord, three of the original climbing party were lifted off the mountain by approximately 9 p.m. They were taken to Madigan Hospital.

If rangers are unable to bring Wren off the mountain Friday, rescue options will be reassessed in the morning, the spokesperson said.

Mount Rainier climbing rangers are among the world's most experienced mountaineers with many spending their off season climbing the great peaks of the world.

The climbing program staff is comprised of more than 20 individuals responsible for visitor and resource protection in the alpine regions of the mountain.

In 2011, climbing staff collectively accrued over 3,000 training hours on skills such as search and rescue, aviation, avalanche safety and high angle rope rescue.

This is the second death of a ranger that Mt. Rainier National Park has experienced this year.

On Jan. 1, an armed assailant shot and killed Ranger Margaret Anderson on the road to Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. The man was found dead the next day, face down in the snow, after an intense manhunt.

National & State Parks