A Mount Rainier National Park ranger died Thursday while trying to rescue a group of climbers who slid into a crevasse after summiting the mountain.
The Park Service identified the ranger as Nick Hall, 34, who has been with the parks climbing program for four years. A native of Patten, Maine, Hall was not married and did not have children.
Three of the climbers Hall was trying to help were flown off the mountain Thursday night. A fourth spent the night on the mountain with climbing rangers and was expected to hike down herself today.
Rangers are preparing for a 6:30 a.m. meeting. They plan to launch an effort this morning to recover Hall's body. Rangers will also attempt to help the remaining climber.
The incident began at 1:45 p.m. when four climbers from Waco, Texas, fell on Emmons Glacier at 13,700 feet while returning from the 14,411-foot summit. Two climbers slid into a crevasse. Another member of their group was able to use a cellphone and call for help.
Rescue attempts started just before 5 p.m. The Park Service said that as three climbers were being evacuated, Hall fell and slid more than 3,000 feet on the mountains northeast side.
Hampered by high winds and clouds in a worsening storm, Chinook helicopters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord airlifted three climbers off the mountain and took them to Madigan Hospital about 9 p.m.
All four climbers suffered non life-threatening injuries. The four climbers from Waco, Texas, were identified as Stuart Smith, Ross VanDyke, Stacy Wren and Noelle Smith. Wren is the climber who is hiking off the mountain today. The park did not release ages of the climbers.
Climbing rangers found Halls body around 10,000 feet.
VIDEO: Kevin Bacher, a Mount Rainier National Park spokesman, talks about the recovery efforts (Peter Haley video).
The Sunrise area, which had originally been scheduled to open this morning, will remain closed during the incident so rescuers can use it as an operating base. It could possibly open later in the day. Park spokeswoman Brandi Stewart says the rest of the park is fully operational and Ive heard no word of changing that.
Hall was unmarried and had no children. He had been involved in several rescue and recovery efforts on the mountain.
According to his Facebook page, where friends started posting condolences earlier this morning, Hall attended Western State College of Colorado and also worked as a ski patroller at Stevens Pass, an avalanche forecaster at Yellowstone National Park and served in the Marines.
Hall is third climbing ranger to die in the line of duty on Mount Rainier.
This is the second on-the-job fatality at Mount Rainier this year and only the fourth in the parks 113-year history. In 1995, climbing rangers Phil Otis and Sean Ryan slipped and fell to their deaths while trying to rescue a climber with a broken leg.
Hall is the seventh person to die at the mountain this year.
A New York man, Brian Grobois, died in December after he got lost while on a snowshoe hike above Paradise.
On Jan. 1, law enforcement ranger Margaret Anderson died when she was shot by a man who had driven through a tire chain checkpoint. The suspect, Benjamin Colton Barnes, was found dead in Paradise Creek the next day.
Two weeks later, two snow campers and two climbers were reported missing and are now presumed dead. The climbers Mark Vucich and Michelle Trojanowski and the climbers – Seol Hee Jin and Sork Yang – ignored warnings of a large storm approaching the region. That storm brought 100 mph winds and drifting snow, delaying an extensive search for a week. There has been no sign of the four.
Jeffrey P. Mayor contributed to this report.