Mt. Rainier visitor dies after reported fall in Paradise area

Park staff recovered the visitor’s body Wednesday

Mount Rainier National Park rangers and volunteers on Wednesday recovered the body of a person who fell through a snow bridge at the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier the day before, according to the National Park Service (NPS).

The person has not yet been identified because officials are still working to notify family of their death. They were found at the bottom of a steep drainage under eight to 10 feet of snow, according to the NPS.

Park rangers were informed of the person’s fall through a 911 call placed at 4:22 p.m. Tuesday by a hiking companion. A rescue team was able to “tentatively” spot an unresponsive person sixty feet downslope through a hole in the snow, but the terrain was too steep and hazardous to conduct a rescue in the dark, the NPS said.

Wednesday morning, 13 Mountain Rescue Association volunteers and three Park Service rangers dug a trench at the base of the slope, and at 12:30 p.m., a ranger in a dry suit entered the trench and recovered the body of the fallen hiker from the base of a waterfall.

“Water flowing underneath melting snow is one of the greatest dangers that hikers face in the Cascades Mountains this time of year,” the NPS said in a press release. “Water can carve and melt large voids, which may be partially or completely invisible from the surface.”

The park service recommends hikers go with companions, check for current information on natural hazards, and stick to well-marked routes and away from drainage areas where water is likely moving underneath the snow. Look for deformities in the snow or the sound of rushing water, both of which can indicate areas where the snow may give way.