Here’ are two updates from the National Park Service regarding last week’s climbing fatalities. These includes names and details that weren’t available earlier. Our earlier report was here .

Sunday Update

Recovery Efforts for Climbing Ranger Continue in Mount Rainier National Park
Date: June 24, 2012

Recovery efforts for Mount Rainier National Park Climbing Ranger Nick Hall continued Sunday, June 24, 2012. Hall, 33, fell approximately 2,500 feet down the Emmons Glacier on Mount Rainier on Thursday, June 21, during a rescue attempt in which four climbers fell into a crevasse on the glacier. Hall did not respond to attempts to contact him and was not moving after the fall. Climbing Rangers assisting in the rescue of the four climbers were able to reach Hall, several hours after he fell, and upon arrival found that he was deceased.

Rescue efforts for the four climbers continued throughout daylight hours and into the next day. All four climbers were successfully rescued and transported to a hospital. Injuries sustained by some members of the climbing party remain serious.

Mount Rainier National Park has experienced several days of inclement weather that has slowed efforts to recover Hall’s remains. Heavy cloud cover, in conjunction with several feet of new snow, has made attempts to reach Hall’s location extremely difficult. Additional amounts of snow are forecast today as well; however the park is expecting a small weather window that may be utilized to reach Hall’s body. Access to the Sunrise Road continues to be restricted as it provides the safest access for an aerial recovery of Hall’s remains.

Mount Rainier National Park Rangers, local search and rescue team members, a Chinook helicopter with crew from Joint Base Lewis McChord and an MD500 helicopter from Northwest Helicopters out of Olympia, Washington continue to assist in the attempted recovery of Hall’s remains and to assure the safety of other climbers on Mt. Rainer.

Friday Update

Upper Mountain Rescue and Recovery Operations Continue
Date: June 22, 2012

Consecutive rescue and recovery missions continue on the upper mountain to extract the final climber involved in Thursday’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.

As of Friday, a ground team was 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 Management Team.