This year has taken a toll on Washingtons outdoor teams, most recently with Thursdays death of Mount Rainier climbing ranger Nick Hall.
Hall, 33, died trying to help four climbers from Waco, Texas two of whom slid into a crevasse Thursday. While helping evacuate one of the climbers, Hall fell and slid more than 1,600 feet.
Reaction from National Park Service staff members Friday was one of shock, as they covered their badges with black mourning ribbons for the second time in six months.
Halls death shook employees still dealing with the death of ranger Margaret Anderson on New Years Day. She died after being shot by a man who drove through a tire chain checkpoint. Her killer, Benjamin Colton Barnes, was found dead the next day in Paradise Creek.
Earlier this month, the parks interpretive ranger staff talked about Andersons death with seasonal employees during their training, said Curt Jacquot, the West District area interpretive ranger.
Weve not fully recovered from Margaret getting shot, he said. And then this new one happens.
With emotions still raw from Andersons killing, Jacquot said reactions to Halls death have been intense.
Its more when people first hear about it: Oh, no, not someone else, Jacquot said.
It definitely brings up those memories of January, said Lee Snook, the parks West District interpreter. Were still working through our grief process and to lose another park family member has been hard. It was shock that it would happen so close together."
Eric Walkinshaw, the parks civil engineer, said he heard of Halls death Friday morning when a neighbor, a former chief of interpretation at the park, offered his condolences.
Its a huge shock, he said. Its horrible any time, but especially back to back. Emotions are a little bit raw still.
Losing multiple people in a short time can result in whats called cumulative loss, said Luella Loudenback, a bereavement services program coordinator at MultiCare who helps people process grief.
Multiple losses can affect how someone deals with trauma, she said. New loss, new grief awakens old grief, Loudenback said. It can be very powerful and heavy for people.
Loudenback compared teams such as the Rainier staff members to families when it comes to dealing with grief.
We spend a lot of time at work, and in those kinds of jobs where you might be with someone day in and day out you are connected, she said. They depend on each other, they are there for each other, they understand what the other person is experiencing.
Hall also was on the ski patrol at Stevens Pass Ski Area from 2008-2010. Workers there also lost a crew member this year.
Marketing director Chris Rudolph was one of three skiers killed Feb. 19 in an avalanche outside the boundaries of the ski area. They were part of a group of expert skiers carrying safety devices.
One skier in the group saved herself by using an air bag, and another survived by bear-hugging a tree.
Rainier overhauled its climbing program more than 15 years ago after it had its first climbing rangers die in the line of duty. Changes included better training and gear.
In August 1995, Phil Otis, 22, and Sean Ryan, 23, were trying to reach a climber with a broken ankle on the Emmons Glacier the same area the climbers Hall was trying to help were Thursday. The climbing rangers were roped together and traveling in the dark when they slipped and fell to their deaths.
The revamped program was honored in 2009 for its safety record.
Luke Osterhaus, co-owner of Jasmers at Mount Rainier in Ashford, understands the challenges climbing rangers face. During a 30-year career at the park that ended in 2007, Osterhaus duties included rescue details at Paradise.
Its a job you sign up to do and thats one of the hazards that comes with it, he said. Youre just not prepared for it when the final cost comes down.
Growing up in a military family, Osterhaus learned to deal with tragedy. What you dont want to do is let it control you, he said. You dont ever get over it, you get through it. Life goes on, but its always in the back of your mind.