One Mt. Rainier Climber Dies, One Rescued

A firefighter who fell 200 feet during a recreational climb on Mount Rainier (search) died before frantic rescuers could reach him.

Jon Cahill, 40, a fire captain and father of four, fell to his death Thursday, about two weeks after another person perished on the same route, one of the mountain's most dangerous.

Cahill's climbing partner, Mark H. Anderson, 33, was rescued by helicopter and flown to a hospital for treatment of a hand injury. He was in satisfactory condition late Thursday.

Cahill fell on Liberty Ridge, about 11,300 feet up the 14,410-foot peak.

Rescue climbers and an Oregon National Guard (search) helicopter rushed to reach him, but by the time the helicopter arrived, he was dead, said Mount Rainier National Park (search) spokesman Barry Fraissinet.

Cahill and Anderson, also both trained as emergency medical technicians, had planned to reach the summit by midmorning Thursday. It was not immediately known what caused Cahill's fall.

Kimberly McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Auburn Fire Department, said Cahill had climbed Rainier 25 times. He was married with four children and had been with the department since 1989.

"He was like a family member to all of us," she said.

Mount Rainier head ranger Jill Hawk said Cahill had climbed the Liberty Ridge route on Rainier's north side more than a half dozen times.

"Our hearts go out to their families," she said. "It's truly a tragic situation."

On May 15 on the same ridge, Peter Cooley tumbled down a steep, icy slope and hit his head on a rock spur. His climbing partner, Scott Richards, maneuvered the two of them to a tiny flat spot, but the Maine men were stranded for two days as temperatures dipped below freezing in whiteout conditions.

Cooley, 39, was picked up by a National Guard helicopter May 17 from the 12,300-foot level but died on the way to a hospital. Accompanied by two rangers, Richards hiked down to a glacier the following day and was picked up by a helicopter.

Cahill's death during a summit ascent of Mount Rainier was the 91st since 1887, when records were first kept.