Avalanche risk too high to retrieve Patten native’s body from Washington mountain

The Associated Press
Posted June 27, 2012, at 5:19 p.m.

ASHFORD, Wash. — The weather was good, but the avalanche risk was too high Wednesday to allow Mount Rainier National Park officials to attempt to recover the body of a ranger killed during a rescue last week.

Nick Hall, 33, a native of Patten, Maine, fell 2,500 feet on June 21 on the Emmons glacier after helping rescue four climbers from Waco, Texas.

Hall’s body landed at the 11,300-foot level on the north side of 14,411-foot Mount Rainier, in an area prone to avalanches. Several feet of snow have fallen on the mountain since then.

His brother Aaron Hall and father, Carter Hall, spoke with reporters at the park Wednesday, remembering him as someone with a unique vision of the American dream.

“He’s not all about making money, building portfolios, owning a home,” Aaron Hall said. “He was about cutting straight to the spirit of what he wanted to accomplish in life. … His empty pockets had a lot of wealth in them.”

Aaron Hall said one of Nick’s goals was to work full-time, year-round in outdoor recreation, and that goal brought him west. He previously worked in the ski patrol at Stevens Pass, east of Seattle.

Officials now hope to be able to retrieve Hall’s body on Thursday.

The mountain, visible on a clear day from Seattle 85 miles to the northwest, is a major attraction. About 10,000 people a year attempt to climb it, and about half make it. Extensive glaciers and sudden weather changes make it dangerous.

Two climbers and two campers disappeared on the mountain in January and remain missing.

The four climbers from Texas were roped together and on their way down from the summit when two, both women, fell into a crevasse. The other two, both men, were able to stop the fall and prevented them all from falling to the bottom. Three eventually were lifted from the mountain by helicopter, and one walked down.

Aaron Hall said the past week has been difficult.

“Thursday I was so angry, I could have run through walls,” The News Tribune quoted him as saying. “I was so frustrated that they couldn’t get Nick. But there’s no need for any other climbing ranger to be hurt in the incident.”

Anger gave way to contemplation when the family saw Mount Rainier for the first time before landing at Sea-Tac International Airport on Monday and on the drive to the park Wednesday.

“It’s bittersweet, it’s beautifully painful,” Aaron Hall said. “There’s some deep, humbling moments to look at that mountain.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/27/news/penobscot/avalanche-risk-too-high-to-retrieve-patten-natives-body/ printed on December 27, 2014