Ranger noted for climbing talent, sincerity

mount rainier: Nick Hall known as ‘valuable asset’ to team; father hopes his death brings safety awareness

jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.comJune 23, 2012 

Those who shared Mount Rainier with Nick Hall were shaken Friday as news spread of the climbing ranger’s death.

“He was an extremely nice guy and a talented climber,” said Jonathan Spitzer, a guide for Alpine Ascents International, “a key ranger for the national park and a valuable asset to their team.”

Hall fell to his death Thursday while helping rescue climbers on Rainier’s Emmons Glacier. Poor weather kept his colleagues from removing his body from the mountain Friday.

George Dunn, co-director of International Mountain Guides, met Hall several times on the mountain.

“He was a really solid and sincere climbing ranger and he was always on top of his game,” Dunn said. “He was committed to his job and serving the public.”

On Friday, Hall’s Facebook page was swamped with messages from his friends sharing memories and posting photos of him rock climbing.

Hall, 33, of Patten, Maine, was a former Marine who listed Longmire as his local address.

In addition to his duties at Rainier, Hall was on the ski patrol at Stevens Pass Ski Area from 2008-2010. Bill Bourton, the ski area’s new interim general manager, said Hall was well respected.

“Folks here who knew him said he was a very likable, nice guy,” Bourton said. “... It’s a big shock to us.”

Hall’s father, Carter Hall, told The Associated Press he and his family were proud of Hall’s career in mountain rescue.

Carter Hall said he hopes his son’s death will bring attention to the hazards and safety requirements of the sport.

National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis said, “Nick Hall died while he carried out a climbing ranger’s greatest responsibility – saving lives. That fact will give us comfort in the future, but not now.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Nick’s family and our National Park Service family at Mount Rainier National Park. They bear too great a burden today, and we will do everything in our power to support them as they have been thrown into the depths of loss yet again.”

Ken Salazar, secretary of the Interior, said, “Nick embodied the brave and selfless nature of the men and women of the National Park Service who dedicate their lives to protecting and helping the millions of visitors to our cherished national parks across America.

“On behalf of the entire Interior family, I offer our heartfelt support and prayers to Nick’s family, friends and coworkers.”

Hall was not married and did not have children.

DEATH on RAINIER: Friday’s DEVELOPMENTS

 • Poor weather conditions prevented a helicopter from being used to recover the body of climbing ranger Nick Hall.

 • Multiple sources reported that the fourth Texas climber who Hall went to rescue walked off the mountain under her own power late in the day.

 • One local guide and a park official said conditions on Mount Rainier are unusually icy for this time of year.

 • Emergency response teams from two other national parks were dispatched to Rainier. A DEADLY 7 MONTHS

Here is a recap of the deaths that have taken place at Mount Rainier National Park since December.

Dec. 12: Brian Grobois, 54, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was reported missing after he failed to return from a snowshoe hike the previous day. He apparently got disoriented in bad weather. He was spotted, motionless, from a helicopter in the upper Stevens Creek drainage, but rescuers could not reach his body until Dec. 13.

Jan. 1: Law enforcement ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, died of gunshot wounds as she attempted to stop a car driven by Benjamin Colton Barnes. The 24-year-old Barnes, a suspect in a Seattle shooting, drove through a tire chain checkpoint, and Anderson attempted to stop him below Paradise.

Jan. 2: Barnes was found dead partially submerged in Paradise Creek. He drowned while suffering from hypothermia.

Jan. 15: Mark Vucich, 37, of San Diego, and Michelle Trojanowski, 30, of Atlanta, were reported overdue from a snow camping trip on the Muir Snowfield. Delayed for a week by a large storm, an extensive ground and air search on Jan. 23 failed to find them. They are presumed dead.

Jan. 16: Sork Yang of Springfield, Ore., and Seol Hee Jin of Korea, both 52, were reported overdue after attempting to reach the 14,411-foot summit. Park staff and volunteers searched for them at the same time as the camping couple. They are presumed dead.

June 21: Climbing ranger Nick Hall, 33, died after falling nearly 3,000 feet while assisting with the rescue of four climbers who had fallen while descending Emmons Glacier. He is the fourth staffer to die while on duty at the park.

jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.com

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