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January 16, 2012

Rescuers search for missing Wash. snowshoer

The Associated Press

ASHFORD, Wash. — About 60 rangers and volunteers went out in snowstorm on Mount Rainier Monday, searching for a man missing since Saturday when he slid down a slope and became separated from his snowshoeing party.

The weather prevented a helicopter from joining the search for Yong Chun Kim, 66, of Tacoma, said National park spokeswoman Lee Taylor.

Kim is an experienced snowshoer but not equipped to stay out overnight as temperatures dropped into the teens.

A searcher over the weekend saw tracks that led the search to focus in the Stevens Creek drainage, at an elevation of about 5,400 feet, east of the Paradise visitors' center, which has been leaving its lights on at night, hoping to serve as a beacon.

Kim was still in contact with other members of his hiking club after his slide but decided not to try to climb back up the slope.

"He yelled or gestured he would hook back up" farther down the trail, Taylor said.

Kim also was in radio contact with the group. "He radioed twice and said he was on his way in."

The last contact was about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and the search was launched when he failed to meet his group at the Paradise center.

"We've tried to raise him on that radio since then without success," Taylor said. "It could be the radio died."

Despite "definitely tough conditions," searchers still hope Kim is alive.

"Obviously as time goes by, the chance diminishes," Taylor said.

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