Snowshoer Missing in Mount Rainier National Park, WA Survives Overnight in 16ºF Snowstorm

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Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park, WA in the summer. Photo by Nate Foong on Unsplash

On Sunday, November 8, a snowshoer missing overnight was located and rescued from the Nisqually River drainage below Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, WA. The snowshoer was last seen on Saturday, November 7th at 1:45 pm, when he and his partner separated below the Muir Snowfield at an elevation of 9,500’.

The missing party intended to descend on snowshoes to Paradise, while his partner continued on skis to Camp Muir. When he did not return to the Paradise parking lot, his partner reported him missing to park rangers. Three National Park Service (NPS) teams conducted an initial search for the missing snowshoer until early morning in winter conditions that minimized visibility. The overnight low at Paradise dropped to 16ºF with five inches of new snow.

NPS search managers and Mount Rescue Association ground teams began searching again on Sunday morning. Clouds prevented launching air operations until the afternoon when a contract helicopter from Hi-Line Helicopters with park rangers aboard joined the search. The helicopter team located the snowshoer in the Nisqually River drainage on the west side of the river a mile upstream from Glacier Bridge. Ground teams reached the snowshoer an hour later. Searchers worked to warm him while a helicopter from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island responded. The military Seahawk helicopter hoisted and transported the patient directly to Harborview Medical Center.

Mountain Rescue Association units from Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympic, Volcano Rescue Team, and Mount Rainier Nordic Patrol conducted ground search efforts. The Washington State Search and Rescue Planning Unit worked with the park command staff on incident planning. Hi-Line Helicopters with Mount Rainier park rangers and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island provided aviation resources. Thirty-three people were assigned to the incident.

Mount Rainier National Park is an American national park located in southeast Pierce County and northeast Lewis County in Washington state. The park was established on March 2, 1899, as the fifth national park in the United States, preserving 236,381 acres (369.3 sq mi; 956.6 km2)  including all of Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot (4,392 m) stratovolcano. The mountain rises abruptly from the surrounding land with elevations in the park ranging from 1,600 feet to over 14,000 feet (490–4,300 m). The highest point in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier is surrounded by valleys, waterfalls, subalpine meadows, and 91,000 acres (142.2 sq mi; 368.3 km2) of old-growth forest. More than 25 glaciers descend the flanks of the volcano, which is often shrouded in clouds that dump enormous amounts of rain and snow.

Mount Rainier National Park, WA

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One thought on “Snowshoer Missing in Mount Rainier National Park, WA Survives Overnight in 16ºF Snowstorm

  1. Mt. Rainer area forecast: Arctic conditions, heavy snowfall, way below freezing temps and steep terrain…Couch dreamer – I want to take my first snowshoe jaunt of the season into the backcountry for some fun! Do these “freshman adventures not understand weather conditions???!!! Dude I’ll meet you at the top…See you there Bro!! In a body bag…Rescue surcharge???

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