Ranger tumbles to his death after rescuing Mt. Rainier hikers (+video)
Mount Rainier park ranger Nick Hall helped rescue three climbers before he fell Thursday. Hall was the second Mount Rainier ranger to die this year.
Authorities at Mount Rainier National Park faced the grim task Friday of recovering the body of one of their own rangers who slid more than 3,000 feet to his death while helping rescue a climbing party.
Nick Hall died Thursday as he was helping evacuate climbers from a crevasse by helicopter near the summit of the 14,411-foot mountain.
The Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord removed three of the four climbers from Waco, Texas. Rangers stayed overnight with the fourth person, a woman. The rangers and the remaining hiker started down Friday morning, but park officials still hoped a helicopter would be able to pick her up and also recover Hall's body, said spokesman Kevin Bacher. Six rangers went to recover Hall's body, but that could take several days if the helicopter can't fly.
Rain was falling at Longmire, and the National Weather Service said it was snowing above 10,000 feet, the level where Hall landed after the 3,000-foot slide.
"The ideal situation will be the weather would clear up enough for the helicopter to take everyone off the mountain," Bacher said. "Our goal for the day is to have everyone off the mountain by the end of the day."
If a helicopter cannot return to the mountain, the remaining climber, who is with four rangers, should be able to walk out on her own, Bacher said.