Friend of climbers calls rescue a 'miracle on the mountain'

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by NATALIE SWABY

KING-TV

Posted on June 23, 2012 at 9:31 PM

SEATTLE — A miracle on the mountain — that's what Claire Kultgen calls it.

“It's a miracle all my friends are alive,” she said. “Nick Hall gave his life to save my buddies and he did save them.”

By now many have heard about the ranger who died while saving four Texas climbers, but few know the story as well as the fifth climber.

“They encouraged me to come back down, cause if you are not sure you shouldn't be up there, and I listened to them,” said Kultgen.

Kultgen had planned to be by their side, but not feeling up to it she opted to wait and watch, with binoculars in hand, from base camp.

“I was watching them and saw them fall,” she said. “What happened after that and what Nick and his team did is really incredible stuff... epic hero stuff for sure.”

After she saw the fall, she told two rangers and in moments they mobilized

“The speed they were able to get up the mountain was incredible, world class effort,” said Kultgen.

As rescuers tried to reach her friends, they lost one of their own - Climbing Ranger Nick Hall

“We didn't know him and that's maybe even more impressive, that those guys go up there for anybody,” said Kultgen.

The climbers long tumble down the mountain followed by rescuers' courage at a critical moment.

“They do that, um, so just so thankful and so sorry and we are devastated for their loss,” said Kultgen.

Kultgen is encouraging people to donate to the Mount Rainier National Park Search & Rescue Fund so rescuers can continue to help others the way they were able to help her friends.

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