Mount Rainier rangers search for missing snowshoer

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 15, 2012 9:48 PM

By Laura L. Myers

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Park rangers and volunteer mountaineers searched Mount Rainier National Park with snowshoes, skis and dogs for a second day on Sunday looking for a missing 66-year-old snowshoe hike leader.

Yong Chun Kim was leading a Tacoma hiking club on a snowshoe walk near the park's 5,400-foot-high Paradise region on Saturday afternoon when he slipped and fell down a steep incline, park spokesman Lee Taylor said.

Kim was well-equipped for a day hike, but not for overnight blizzard conditions, with icy winds whipping up to 50 mph, temperatures at 10 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 30 inches of fresh snow falling in parts of the park on Saturday night.

"We're still hopeful but as the more time goes by, it's less likely he's alive and well," Taylor said.

Kim radioed his group to continue the hike, telling them he would traverse the area where he fell, but rangers began the search about 30 minutes after he failed to show up, Taylor said.

Back-country campers had spotted fresh tracks believed to be those of Kim, who is an experienced 10-year snowshoe hiker.

The National Park Service describes Rainier's Paradise region as "the snowiest place on earth where snowfall is measured regularly."

The Mount Rainier search is the second in less than two weeks. A massive manhunt found the body of Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, drowned in a creek and frozen a day after he shot and killed park ranger Margaret Anderson on New Year's Day.

(Editing by David Bailey)