SEATTLE – The last of four Waco, Texas, climbers rescued on Mount Rainier in an effort that cost a ranger his life walked down off the Washington peak on Friday while blizzard conditions high on the mountain delayed efforts to retrieve the ranger’s body.
The final climber, Stacy Wren, descended the mountain with Mount Rainier National Park rangers and was whisked away by car Friday evening. Three other climbers were plucked off the mountain by helicopter Thursday after the group fell and two of them ended up in a crevasse.
Eight other rangers trying to retrieve the body of climbing ranger Nick Hall, 33, from the 10,000-foot level of the 14,411-foot mountain were pinned down in a ground blizzard. They planned to spend the night at Camp Schurman at the 9,500-foot level and hope for a weather window today, park spokeswoman Fawn Bauer said.
Hall slid more than 3,000 feet to his death as he was helping evacuate the Texas climbers.
Hall, a four-year veteran of the park’s climbing program, came from a family of EMTs who aided soldiers in Iraq and car crash victims in his small hometown of Patten, Maine. He was not married and had no children.
His father, Carter Hall, recalled his son as a loner when he was a child, but flourished in high school through a shared love of the wilderness.
“For good and bad, it was my influence of the outdoors,” Hall told the Associated Press in a call from his Maine home, his voice breaking.
A Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord removed three of the four climbers, and rangers stayed on the mountain Thursday night with Wren.
The Texas climbers had reached the summit and were on their way down, roped together, when two women fell into a crevasse on Emmons Glacier. Two men were able to stop the group, and one called for help by cellphone.
Rangers and the helicopter responded to the site at the 13,700-foot level. A helicopter airlifted the three to Madigan Army Medical Center at the military base near Tacoma, where they were hospitalized in fair condition Friday, said spokesman Jay Ebbeson.
Park spokeswoman Patti Wold identified the climbers as Stuart Smith, Noelle Smith, Ross Vandyke and Wren.
Hall had helped put three climbers into the helicopter when he fell.
Hall was the second Mount Rainier National Park ranger to die this year. Margaret Anderson was fatally shot on New Year’s Day as she tried to stop a suspect in a Seattle shooting who drove through a tire-chain checkpoint.