Environmental science

Mount Rainier National Park Pays Tribute to Two Rangers Who Died During 1995 Rescue Attempt

By The Chronicle staff

Mount Rainier National Park on Friday paid tribute to two rangers who died during a rescue attempt on Aug. 12, 1995.

Sean Ryan and Philip Otis were attempting to rescue an injured climber on the Winthrop Glacier when they died.

“Today we celebrate the lives of Mount Rainier National Park Rangers Phil Otis and Sean Ryan who lost their lives on the mountain during a rescue of an injured climber on the Winthrop Glacier, on August 12, 1995,” the park wrote in a statement on Facebook. “We honor their service and sacrifice. We invite you to visit the Valor Memorial at Longmire where we remember and honor Sean and Phil along with two additional rangers who lost their lives while saving the lives of others.”

Learn more about the memorial online at https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/news/valor-memorial.htm.

Below are brief biographies of Otis and Ryan provided by Mount Rainier National Park.

Climbing Ranger Sean Ryan: 1972-1995

At 23 years of age, Ryan had just graduated college when his life was cut short. Originally from New York, he attended the University of California Santa Cruz where he took a wilderness course in his freshman year that inspired him to pursue a job in Mount Rainier’s backcountry. He spent his summers hiking with friends and family.

Ryan first arrived at Mount Rainier in 1994 when he volunteered in the park’s backcountry through the Student Conservation Association. That summer he mainly patrolled Glacier Basin on the northeast side of the mountain and made trips up to Camp Schurman on his days off where he began to learn upper mountain search and rescue skills and summited the mountain several times. The following summer he worked as a climbing ranger out of Camp Schurman. Those who worked with him remember him with affection and will not forget his youth and promise.

Ranger Philip Otis: 1973-1995

A passion for the outdoors dominated Otis’ life. As a teenager, he took courses at the rigorous National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming, where he learned mountaineering, natural history and wilderness survival skills. After graduating from Blake School in Minneapolis in 1991, he chose to study environmental science at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

In the summer before his final term at Bates, Otis won a coveted position as a volunteer ranger through the Student Conservation Association at Mount Rainier. He patrolled the backcountry on the mountain’s northeastern slopes around White River and Sunrise.

Otis is remembered as an upbeat, positive person who was fun, light-hearted and generous in spirit. He continues to be greatly missed by all who knew him.

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