The body of Mount Rainier climbing ranger Nick Hall was recovered from the mountain Thursday, 14 days after he died while on a mission to rescue climbers who had fallen into a crevasse.
A team of five Mount Rainier climbing rangers and a search dog team were flown up to Hall’s location at about 11,000 feet on the north side of Mount Rainier. The operation, including a preliminary reconnaissance flight, went smoothly and was completed in about two hours.
Rangers attempted to retrieve Hall's body on June 21, the day he died, and again on June 28, but were forced to call off both missions due to high winds, deteriorating weather, and avalanche hazards.
A family memorial service is being planned for Friday in Patten, Maine. Hall, who was 34, was a native of Patten, Maine.
More than 400 people attended a memorial service in Mount Rainier National Park last Friday for Hall.During the June 21 rescue mission, Hall fell from the 13,700-foot level of Mount Rainier to about 10,000 feet as he was helping prepare stranded climbers for extrication by helicopter.
After the June 21 incident, fellow rescuers reached Hall and found him dead. He was a four-year veteran of Mount Rainier National Park’s climbing program. He was unmarried and had no children.
“It was with a heavy heart that I learned of the tragic loss of Mount Rainier Park Ranger Nick Hall, who heroically gave his life to save others during a dangerous rescue on the mountain. Nick embodied the brave and selfless nature of the men and women of the National Park Service,” the secretary said in a statement.
A Mount Rainier National Park ranger said everyone was "shocked" and "numb" over Hall's death.
Donations to honor Hall, which will go to his family's expenses and to future search and rescue operations, can be sent to the MORA Search and Rescue Fund at 55210 238th Ave E, Ashford, WA 98304.
The rescue operation that turned fatal started about 1:45 p.m. Thursday when a party of four climbers from Waco, Texas, fell at Emmons Glacier as they were returning from a successful summit of Mount Rainier. Two members of the party slid into a crevasse. One of the other members was able to call for help with a cell phone.
The climbers have been identified as Stuart Smith, Ross Van Dyke, Noelle Smith and Stacy Wren. A fifth climber, Claire Kultgen, turned around at 11,000 feet and did not summit with the others. They were all rescued and had only minor injuries.
Gov. Christine Gregoire said in a statement, "My thoughts go out to the family and friends of ranger Nick Hall and to the Mount Rainier Ranger community. Those who put their lives on the line to protect the lives of others are to be commended. This tragedy is felt even more so by the recent loss of one of Nick’s colleagues, ranger Margaret Anderson. Nick’s selflessness won’t be forgotten and I thank him for his service to others.”
Nick Hall (Courtesy Anastasia Blagoveshchenskaya)