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Bad weather stalls effort to retrieve Patten native’s body from Mount Rainier

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN
Patten native and park ranger Nick Hall lost his life while taking part in a rescue effort on Mount Rainier in Washington on Thursday, June 21, 2012.
By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

The body of a park ranger and Patten native who slid 2,500 feet to his death during a rescue operation on Washington’s Mount Rainier almost two weeks ago likely won’t be brought down from the mountain until later this week, a spokeswoman for Mount Rainier National Park said Monday.

Park rangers continued to monitor the weather on Monday but might not be able to recover the body of Ranger Nick Hall, 33, until Thursday or Friday, said Barb Maynes, a park public information officer.

“It is a little more favorable today than it has been,” Maynes said Monday, “but at this point it looks today like we are not going to have enough good weather to pull it off.”

Hall fell 2,500 feet on June 21 on the Emmons glacier after helping rescue four climbers from Waco, Texas. Some sources initially said he fell about 3,700 feet.

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.

Park rangers need more than good weather to complete their task. They need relatively clear skies, low winds and good visibility on the mountain for long enough to climb to the body and convey it to a rescue helicopter hovering overhead, Maynes said.

The constant threat of avalanches and sudden weather changes make any such operation hazardous.

The Hall family, which came to the park for memorial services last week, returned to Patten on Sunday, Maynes said. A park family liaison officer communicates with them daily about the operation.

Park rangers and workers from elsewhere within the national park system are filling shifts to give Rainier park workers time to recover from the tragedy and to handle the influx of visitors starting to arrive for the Fourth of July, Maynes said.

Hall was a highly skilled, respected and well-liked member of the team of rangers that handles mountain rescues, officials have said.

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