Online Exclusive

Fallen Ranger's Body Recovered From Mount Rainier

Nick Hall finally left the mountain he loved Thursday morning, two weeks after the climbing ranger fell to his death on Mount Rainier.

In a mission that lasted about two hours and was completed by noon, Hall's body was removed from Mount Rainier National Park by fellow climbing rangers assisted by a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, park spokeswoman Patti Wold said.

Hall's body was flown to Sunrise, where he was transferred to an ambulance escorted by a ranger vehicle to the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office.

Hall fell June 21 while helping in the rescue of four injured climbers from Texas on the Emmons Glacier. He fell 2,600 feet onto the Winthrop glacier.

Rangers reached Hall shortly after the fall and again June 28, but were unable to remove him from the mountain because of poor weather, high winds and avalanche hazard.

An estimated 450 people attended a memorial service at Paradise on June 29.

The road to Sunrise was closed Thursday morning to support the mission, but was expected to be open today, Wold said.

Thursday's recovery team included a crew from Lewis-McCord's 214th Aviation Regiment, a Hughes 530 helicopter from Olympia's Northwest Helicopters and search dogs.

Hall's body was placed on a litter for transport on June 21 and his location marked with radio tags. His body, which had been anchored in place, was covered with snow when six rangers and a search dog arrived Thursday.

Hall was 33 and originally from Patten, Maine, and served in the Marines. He worked on the Stevens Pass Ski Area patrol from 2008-2010 and worked four years as a climbing ranger at Rainier.

An investigation into the incident is in its final stages, chief ranger Chuck Young said. The investigation, which will be forwarded to the National Park Service's regional director before it is made public, is expected to determine what led to Hall's fall.

On Thursday, rangers also removed gear used in the original rescue.

A memorial service for Hall's family is planned for today in Patten, Maine. Mount Rainier climbing rangers and representatives of the Park Service plan to attend, Wold said.

Copyright 2012 - The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service