Mount Rainier National Park Climber Recovered After Fatal Fall From Disappointment Cleaver

by Jon D. B.

A Canadian climber’s body has finally been recovered after falling to their death in U.S. Mount Rainier National Park.

According to Ben Welch, Senior Law Enforcement Officer, park witnesses reported seeing a climber take a substantial fall while descending the Disappointment Cleaver route on Mount Rainier. The climber fell on Monday, August 22, down the mountain’s south side.

Mount Rainier has now identified the climber as Canadian national Chun Hui Zhang, 52, of Surrey, British Columbia. Zhang was on a private, recreational summit climb of Mount Rainier with friends when the fall happened.

“Several unsuccessful attempts were made by mountain climbing guides and National Park Service (NPS) rangers to locate the fallen climber,” NPS’ report states. But Zhang was finally located the following day by a team of NPS rangers.

“Using an NPS-contracted helicopter, rangers were able to access and extricate the climber’s body,” the report continues. Guides and staff from International Mountain Guides and Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. would also provide valuable assistance with the recovery.

Sadly, mountaineering deaths in U.S. national parks are not uncommon. And as Mount Rainier states, “Climbers must be in excellent physical condition and well prepared. Technical glacier-travel rope skills are also required to ascend and descend the mountain safely.”

To reach Rainier’s summit via any route requires a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet. Climbers must also travel over ten miles in distance.

Outsider sends our sincerest condolences to the family of 52-year-old Chun Hui Zhang.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, and is an active volcano. Despite the tragedy of Zhang’s death, thousands of climbers successfully ascend this 14,410 foot wonder.

To do so, Mount Rainier National Park offers over twenty different climbing routes and ski descents via four main trailheads on the mountain. These are:

  • Paradise
  • Westside Road
  • White River
  • Mowich Lake

In addition, two main steps are required to climb Mount Rainier:

  1. Each individual must pay the Annual Climbing Fee each year (good for the entire calendar year)
    • You can pay this BEFORE coming to the park online at
  2. All climbing parties must obtain a Climbing Permit in-person at Mount Rainier National Park for their climb
    • One per party, up to 12 people per party).

The Annual Climbing Fee at Mount Rainier National Park helps provide for rangers to respond to search and rescue incidents. The incredible work of these S&R officials requires putting their own lives on the line.

Mount Rainier Climbing Safety:

  • Weather, snow, and route conditions can change rapidly, making the difference between a pleasant and rewarding experience or a tragedy
    • Before beginning a climb, obtain a current weather forecast
    • Rangers at both Camp Muir and Camp Schurman can give out updated forecasts before your summit attempt, but look for a general trend in the weather before arriving at the park
  • During your climb, turn back if weather conditions deteriorate
    • Severe winter-like storms on the mountain are not uncommon during the summer
  • Poor weather often contributes to accidents and near-misses on the mountain

Stay safe out there, Outsiders, in Mount Rainier National Park and beyond.