DOINews: NPS-Mount Rainier: National Park Service Mourns Death of Ranger Nick Hall

Last edited 09/05/2019

National Park Service Ranger Rick Hall
The National Park Service mourns the death of Rick Hall, a four-year veteran of Mount Rainier's climbing program, who died on June 21 during a rescue attempt. Photo by NPS.

Ranger Nick 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 on Thursday 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.

The park has experienced several days of inclement weather that has slowed efforts to recover Hall's remains. Heavy cloud cover and several feet of new snow have made attempts to reach Hall's location extremely difficult. Additional amounts of snow were forecast for Sunday as well; however, the park was expecting a small weather window that could possibly be utilized to reach Hall's body. Access to Sunrise Road continues to be restricted, as it provides the safest access for an aerial recovery of Hall's remains.

On Saturday, the park transitioned management of the incident to the National Park Service Intermountain Region's incident management team. The team arrived midday on Saturday and continued implementation of ICS. A critical incident stress management team is providing support to park employees in the wake of this tragic loss of a coworker and friend.

Mount Rainier 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.

Nick Hall was a four-year veteran of Mount Rainier's climbing program and a native of Patten, Maine. He was unmarried and has no children.

“Last night we lost Mount Rainier climbing ranger Nick Hall, who died on the mountain while he carried out a climbing ranger's greatest responsibility – saving lives,” said Director Jarvis in an all-employee message on Friday. “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. We will do everything in our power to support them as they have been thrown into the depths of loss yet again.

“Climbing rangers like Nick hold a special place in my heart. I went up the mountain with them during my years at Mount Rainier. They are athletic, amazing, heroic figures. They stand on mountaintops in a state of pure joy and are ready to help others discover that same experience.

“Nick, who was 34 years old, grew up in Maine and loved the outdoors. He had been with the climbing program at Mount Rainier for four years. He knew the joy of the mountain and the satisfaction of selfless service. Please keep Nick and his family, friends and co-workers in your thoughts today and in the days ahead.

“I have ordered flags at National Park Service facilities to be flown at half staff and authorized mourning bands to be worn on NPS badges until further notice.”

Secretary Salazar also issued a statement.

“It was with a heavy heart that I learned of the tragic loss of Mount Rainier Park Ranger Nick Hall, who heroically gave his life to save others during a dangerous rescue on the mountain,” he 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.”

Link to full NPS Digest story for additional information.

By: Rick Jones, information officer, NPS

June 25, 2012

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