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Originally published Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 10:57 PM

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Ranger killed during rescue of climbers on Mount Rainier

A ranger with Mount Rainier National Park died Thursday afternoon while rescuing climbers, two of whom had fallen into a crevasse.

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I have nothing but extreme respect for those that risk their own lives to save others. ... MORE
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Nick Hall, a climbing ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, fell 3,700 feet to his death Thursday afternoon, after helping rescue two climbers who had fallen into a crevasse, according to a park news release. The two women who fell into the crevasse were part of a party of four, two women and two men, from Waco, Texas.

As Hall, 34, was preparing some of the climbers for helicopter evacuation at 4:59 p.m., he fell down the mountain's northeast side from the 13,700-foot level. He was not moving after his fall, and attempts to contact him were unsuccessful, the release said.

Climbers reached him hours later and confirmed he had died.

Hall, a native of Patten, Maine, had been with the park's climbing program for four years, the release said.

The climbers who fell into the crevasse had slipped on their descent down Emmons Glacier after hiking to Mount Rainier's 14,411-foot summit around 1:45 p.m. Thursday.

As the two women were dangling inside the crevasse at the 13,700-foot level, one of the other climbers was able contact rescue rangers by cellphone.

The rescue team was able to reach the climbers fairly fast.

The two women climbers were pulled to safety by 3:10 p.m. The four climbers, who range in age from 18 to 53, have injuries from slipping and having a few hundred pounds of force yank on their harnesses at the end of the fall, but none are life-threatening, said Kevin Bacher, a park spokesman.

A rapidly lowering cloud ceiling and 40-mph winds made it tough for a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to reach the climbers, but three were eventually lifted away at around 9 p.m., Bacher said.

The fourth climber stayed on the mountain overnight with rescue rangers.

They started down Friday morning, but the park still hoped a helicopter would be able to pick her up and also recover Hall's body, Bacher said. Six rangers went to recover Hall's body, but that could take several days if the helicopter can't fly.

The three climbers rescued were hospitalized and are in fair condition today.

Hall's family told The Associated Press that they were proud of him for his involvement in mountain rescues.

"We sincerely hope the loss of our son will draw appropriate attention to the hazards and safety requirements and commitment to be involved in the profession and sport he so loved," said his father, Carter Hall, from the family home in Patten, Maine.

The family said it was "grieving and celebrating" his life.

Hall's death comes during what has already proved a difficult year for park staff. On New Year's Day, Ranger Margaret Anderson was fatally shot as she tried to stop a man who drove through a tire-chain checkpoint near Longmire. The man, Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, was suspected in a shooting in Seattle. His body was found the next day about a mile away.

Material from The Associated Press was

used in this report.

Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or avaughn@seattletimes.com

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