Updated at 4:35 p.m.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
A search is underway in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier Park for a 66-year-old Tacoma man who got separated from a group of snow shoe hikers he was leading yesterday afternoon.
Yong Chun Kim slipped down a steep slope, was unable to ascend the slope and told the group he would go around and meet them, park spokesperson Lee Taylor said this morning.
His companions returned to Paradise and when Kim failed to return by 3 p.m., a search began that went on until 9 p.m., Taylor said.
Kim is an experienced snow shoer, but was not equipped for an overnight stay, Lee said.
The area experienced severe weather yesterday, including blizzard conditions with gusts of 30 to 50 mph and received five inches of new snow overnight, according to Taylor. The snow is expected to continue.
The hiking group is from Tacoma, she said.
Kim was last heard from at 2:30 p.m. yesterday when he radioed his group to say he was okay, according to Taylor.
Twenty-five searchers were on the ground this morning, from Tacoma, Seattle and Everett mountain rescue units along with National Park staff.
Nearly 50 searchers, joined by three German Shepherd dog teams, continued through the day looking for clues to Kim’s whereabouts in the snowy terrain above Paradise, Taylor noted in a 3:30 p.m. update.
If the effort continues into a third day, the road from Longmire to Paradise will remain closed on Monday so that park visitors don’t interfere with the search, according to Taylor.