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Entries in Mount Rainier (6)

Friday
Jun222012

Mount Rainier Ranger Falls to Death Trying to Save Climbers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONGMIRE, Wash.) -- A climbing ranger fell to his death Thursday afternoon while he was trying to extract four injured climbers off of Mt. Rainier in Washington state.

Nick Hall, 34, plummeted over 3,000 feet as a military helicopter assisted in the rescue.

"We were in the process of effecting that extrication with the help of a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord when one of our climbing rangers Nick Hall fell," said Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher.

Hall, who was an experienced climber and had been a ranger for four years, was unresponsive after the fall.  When rescue teams reached him, he was already dead, Bacher said.

"We're stunned. This is.. this is absolutely the worst possible outcome," Bacher said.

Three of the injured climbers have since been removed from the mountain, but one remains there along with two other climbing rangers as they wait for a storm to pass.  Once the weather clears up, rescuers can safely go back in to extract them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan212012

Search Resumes for Four Missing Hikers After Blizzard in Washington

Purestock/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- The search for two pairs of hikers missing for nearly a week in Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park resumed today after freezing rain and heavy snow kept crews inside Friday.

National Parks spokeswoman Patti Wold says conditions are rough, but searchers are optimistic that the four will be found alive.

“Visibility is poor. There are winds up to 50 miles an hour, but the folks we have searching are some of the best of the best, and the most physically able to do this search under those conditions,” said Wold.

“We know that they are still very likely alive, as long as they have been cautious in how they’ve conducted themselves up there,” she said. “We’re still optimistic. We are trying to make sure that we keep our searchers safe out there and that’s our number one priority.”

Mark Vucich, 37, of San Diego, and Michelle Trojanowski, 30, of Atlanta, were supposed to return Sunday from a camping trip on the Muir Snowfield, about 10,000 feet up, but have not been heard from in days.

The pair’s car was found in a parking lot about halfway up the mountain, according to Wold.

Mount Rainier is about 70 miles southeast of Seattle, which was battered by snow and ice on Wednesday.  Mount Rainier was hit with snow over the weekend and temperatures continued to hover well below freezing.

A team of 10 Park Service staff set out Thursday to travel the same route Vucich and Trojanowski would have taken, Wold said.

On Tuesday, the team was only able to conduct a limited search after conditions of zero visibility and 100 mph winds hampered their efforts.

“The weather still isn’t good up there,” Wold said. ”We are doing what we can.”

Meanwhile, two other climbers, an unidentified couple from Springfield, Ore., are also missing after failing to return Monday from a summit attempt on the Disappointment Cleaver route.

Park officials said they believe both pairs of climbers chose to ride out the storm and wait for conditions to clear before returning.  All four are thought to be well-equipped with tents, sleeping bags and other cold weather gear.

Wold says park officials are not sure of the experience level of the two campers and two climbers who are missing, but remain optimistic that they will be found alive.

“The more experienced they are, the better, the more likely they would actually be to understand how to ration their food and supplies,” said Wold.

Vucich’s uncle told the U-T San Diego his nephew is an experienced hiker, but said the family is worried.

“We hope he is hunkered down,” Jack Anthony said. “It’s not a good situation.”

The missing hikers’ families and park officials are hoping their story ends in a fashion similar to that of Yong Chun Kim, the 66-year-old snowshoer who was found alive on Mount Rainier after a two-day search.

Rescuers found Kim, of Tacoma, Wash., alive and well Monday afternoon after he fell down a steep slope Saturday while snowshoeing and became separated from his group.  Kim told park officials he burned dollar bills from his wallet to create warmth and stay alive.

National Park Service officials had to rescue Kim using a special Sno-Cat vehicle because the snowy and windy conditions prevented a helicopter rescue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan192012

Weather Hampers Search for Missing Mt. Rainier Hikers

Purestock/Getty Images(SEATTLE) –- An unprecedented winter storm that is hammering the Pacific Northwest coast with freezing rain and heavy snow has hampered the search for four hikers missing from Washington’s Mount Rainier Park.

Mark Vucich, 37, of San Diego, and Michelle Trojanowski, 30, of Atlanta, were supposed to return Sunday from a camping trip on the Muir Snowfield, about 10,000 feet up, but have not been heard from in days. The pair’s car was found in a parking lot about halfway up the mountain, according to Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold.

Mount Rainier is about 70 miles southeast of Seattle, which was battered by snow and ice on Wednesday.  Mount Rainier was hit with snow over the weekend as temperatures continued to hover well below freezing.

A team of 10 Park Service staff set out today to travel the same route Vucich and Trojanowski would have taken, Wold said.

On Tuesday, the team was only able to conduct a limited search after conditions of zero visibility and 100 mph winds hampered their efforts.

Meanwhile, two other climbers, an unidentified couple from Springfield, Ore., also remain missing after failing to return Monday from a summit attempt on the Disappointment Cleaver route.

Park officials believe both pairs of climbers chose to ride out the storm and wait for conditions to clear before returning.  All four are thought to be well-equipped with tents, sleeping bags and other cold weather gear.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan172012

Missing Snowshoe Hiker Found Alive on Mount Rainier

Purestock/Getty Images(ASHFORD, Wash.) -- A trio of rescuers found snowshoer Yong Chun Kim alert and conscious on Monday after he went missing Saturday during a hike on Mount Rainier in Washington state.

Kim, 66, was cold but otherwise in stable condition, according to National Park Service spokeswoman Lee Taylor, who added that rescuers were trying to send in a Sno-Cat vehicle to complete the rescue amid weather too harsh for helicopters.

A team of more than 70 people and two teams of rescue dogs earlier had narrowed their search for Kim, of Tacoma, Wash., officials told ABC News.

Kim was leading hikers in the Paradise region of Mount Rainier National Park when he slipped down a steep slope.  Instead of climbing back up to rejoin the group, Kim continued on to meet the group further down the trail. When he did not arrive 30 minutes after he radioed the group to tell them he was on his way, the park service launched a search.

Taylor told ABC News that one of the members of Kim’s group went along on Sunday’s search and took the team to the point where Kim was last seen. One of the searchers also on Sunday noticed snowshoe tracks in an area called Stevens Creek, which was where the rescue team then focused its search.

Rescuers then found Kim in the upper Stevens Creek basin, Taylor said.

The search for Kim was the second one in Mount Rainier Park in less than two weeks.  A manhunt was launched earlier this month to find Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, after he shot and killed park ranger Margaret Anderson on New Year’s Day.

The body of Barnes, an Iraq war veteran, was found the next day; he apparently drowned in a creek after suffering from hypothermia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan032012

Body of Mt. Rainier Shooting Suspect Found

Purestock/Getty Images(ASHFORD, Wash.) -- The man suspected of killing a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state apparently has died from exposure to the elements, according to police.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said Monday night the body they had located earlier in the day face-down in the snow without any identification is Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, the sole suspect in Sunday's shooting.

"We found his body.  His body has been recovered," Troyer said.  "He died of conditions, there's no obvious sign of death other than being really cold on a mountain all night in freezing water."

"He was wearing T-shirt, a pair of jeans and one tennis shoe.  That was it," he said.

Barnes was being tracked by ground and aerial search crews for the shooting death of 34-year-old ranger Margaret Anderson, who tried to block his path when Barnes sped past a checkpoint in the park Sunday morning.  Barnes fired shots at Anderson and another ranger before fleeing into the park's wilderness.  The other ranger was not injured.

Shortly before the discovery of the body, police said they had been honing in on Barnes' location by following his footprints in chest-deep snow.  Authorities said he had some survival training and appeared to be moving in and out of river beds to avoid being followed.  Police said they did not know whether he had enough supplies to continue outpacing them.

More than 100 agents from the National Park Service, state police, FBI and local sheriff's departments had descended on the park to help the search efforts.

Authorities had gathered 125 campers who were in the park Sunday into a visitors center, where they were held under police watch overnight.  The visitors were evacuated in the dark early Monday morning.  Three small groups of hikers who were making an ascent of the mountain remained in the park.

Barnes is a military veteran who has a history of criminal violence, including threatening the mother of his child with guns during a bitter custody battle, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan022012

Mt. Rainier Park Shooting: Suspect Still on Lam

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash.) -- Park rangers and FBI agents at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State evacuated 125 campers who were held overnight Sunday during the search for a gunman suspected of killing a park ranger.

The campers were gathered in a visitor's center at the park after the shooting death of ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, in the park Sunday morning. Police say that military veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, is a "strong person of interest" in the shooting and is being sought by police in the park.

Barnes, who has a history of criminal violence, is suspected of shooting four other people before entering the park Sunday and speeding past a check point. Anderson and another ranger blocked the road in front of Barnes, who allegedly fired the shots that killed Anderson, according to Pierce County Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer.

Anderson was a married mother of two daughters, ages 2 and 4.

Police found Barnes' vehicle, which had weapons and body armor inside, Troyer told ABC News affiliate KOMO.

The visitors were escorted by police to the exit of the park under the cover of darkness around 4 a.m. Monday morning. They spent the night in the visitor's center, which had food and water but no cots, pillows or sleeping bags. They were taken to a fire house outside of the park upon their evacuation.

Police have been searching the snowy park since early Sunday, using infrared radar, aircraft and ground units to try and track the suspect. Lee Taylor, a spokeswoman for the park, said 111 law enforcement officers from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Washington State Patrol, FBI, and Pierce and Louis counties are assisting in the search.

Barnes is also a suspect in the early Sunday morning shooting of four people at a house party in Skyway, Wash., police said. Two people were critically injured in the shooting.

Barnes has a violent past and previously threatened the mother of his child with guns during a bitter custody battle, according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Police also released photos showing him with weapons and tattoos reading "pride, envy, gluttony and lust."

Barnes has four years of military service, according to police, and is considered a survivalist with outdoor skills. Police told KOMO that Barnes' tracks appear to go into creeks and other waterways in the park, making it more difficult for crews to track him; a purposeful, tactical move, Pierce County's Troyer said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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