For Immediate Release-_
Patti Wold, PIO-_
Consecutive rescue and recovery missions continue on the upper mountain this morning to extract the final climber involved in yesterday’s incident and deceased Climbing Ranger Nick Hall.
A team of climbing rangers is walking down from 13,700 feet on the Emmons
Glacier with the final climber from the group of four involved in
yesterday’s incident. Stacy 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 ground team is en route to Nick Hall’s location. They are currently at
Camp Schurman at 9,500′. The team’s mission is to bring Nick down the
mountain. They are encountering heavy precipitation and thickening clouds.
It is unknown at this time if they will complete their mission today. Air
operations are currently grounded by the unfavorable weather. Air
operations are supported by a Chinook and crew from Joint Base Lewis
McChord and an MD500 from Northwest Helicopters.
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 over 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. The park conducts 30 -40 major
search and rescue operations in an average year. The park has had 395
fatalities since 1897 and 117 of those are climbing related. There have
been five line of duty deaths in Mount Rainier National Park’s history;
2012 Climbing Ranger Nick Hall fell during yesterday’s rescue operation and
Park Ranger Margaret Anderson was shot during a traffic stop; in 1995 two
climbing rangers fell 1,200′ during a rescue on the Emmons Glacier; and a
maintenance worker died in a work-related incident in the 1950s.
The park Incident Command System team will be transitioning management of
the incident with the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Incident
At approximate 12:00 pm on, Thursday, June 21, 2012, 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 Nick Hall fell, sliding more than 3,000 feet
down the side of the mountain. 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 9:00 pm and taken to
Madigan Hospital. The final member of the climbing party spent the night on
the mountain with climbing rangers. All four suffered non-life threatening
injuries, but were subsequently admitted from to the hospital and have not
yet been released.
Climbing rangers reached Ranger Hall several hours after the incident began
and subsequently determine him to be deceased. Nick Hall, 33, is a 4-year
veteran of Mount Rainier National Park’s climbing program and a native of
Patten, Maine. He was unmarried and has no children.
Sunrise, which had been scheduled to open for the season today, will remain
closed while the incident is underway.