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Man dies from fall while climbing Mount Rainier

Chun Hui Zhang fell Monday in the area of a rocky 12,000-foot feature known as the Disappointment Cleaver.
Mount Rainier reflected in a small lake at the top of Tatoosh Range.
Mount Rainier reflected in a small lake at the top of Tatoosh Range.Courtesy NPS

A Canadian man died in a fall from Mount Rainier in Washington state earlier this week, a federal parks official said Friday.

The climber was identified by the National Park Service Thursday as Chun Hui Zhang, 52, of Surrey, British Columbia. The service said in a statement that Zhang had been on a private summit climb with friends.

Ben Welch, senior officer at Mount Rainier National Park, said officials did not know whether he was using a safety rope, which isn’t required.


In its guide to climbing Rainier, the park service cautions against "short roping" along the route taken by Zhang to avoid dragging a rope on the ground and knocking rocks onto climbers below.

"Climbing through the loose rocks of Disappointment Cleaver while dragging a rope on the ground will almost surely guarantee that rocks will be knocked down on climbers below," it states.

The service recommends using a longer safety rope after learning from professionals how to properly "get the rope up and off the ground."

It was not immediately clear if Zhang had a rope with him.

The fall was reported Monday in the area of a rocky 12,000-foot feature known as the Disappointment Cleaver, which exists along the most popular route to Rainier's summit: three of four climbers on Rainier pass through the Cleaver.

Despite its traffic, the route includes some dangerous elements, including "rock islands" and nearby "steep cliffs," the park service says in its guide.

Zhang was descending the mountain when two International Mountain Guides staffers preparing for a private, guided climb saw him fall, according to Welch and to the park service statement.

The guides helped other climbers in the area get to safety, the statement said.

It took several unsuccessful attempts to find Zhang's body, the service said. His remains were recovered Tuesday by park rangers with the help of National Park Service helicopter, according to the statement.

The fall happened amid high season for the 14,410-foot mountain, the highest peak in the Cascade Range and the dominant feature of the Puget Sound horizon.