1 climber dies, oth­ers res­cued on state’s tallest peak

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - OBITUARIES - By Steven Dubois and Gil­lian Flac­cus

GOV­ERN­MENT CAMP, ORE. » One climber fell to his death and sev­eral oth­ers had to be res­cued af­ter con­di­tions turned treach­er­ous on Ore­gon’s tallest peak.

More than a half-dozen peo­ple had been climb­ing near Mount Hood’s peak when a climber fell about 1,000 feet, said Sgt. Brian Jensen, a Clacka­mas County sher­iff’s of­fice spokesman.

“One of the guys slipped,” said climber Quinn Tal­ley of Welches, Ore­gon, who had been de­scend­ing af­ter sum­mit­ing Tues­day morn­ing. “At first he was just slid­ing and right be­fore he dis­ap­peared, he started cartwheel­ing.”

Tal­ley, who said he’s climbed the moun­tain about 20 times and has never seen worse con­di­tions, said he tried to reach the man, but the ice was too dan­ger­ous.

“Nor­mally, you like a frozen crust on snow so your cram­pons don’t ball up with snow, but this is dif­fer­ent,” Tal­ley said. “With the rain and freeze cy­cles, there’s

some­thing called rime ice ... and it’s re­ally loose and nor­mally it’s just fluffy. But these were like din­ner plates, hard ice din­ner plates.”

KOIN-TV re­ported that video taken from a he­li­copter showed other climbers per­form­ing CPR on the man be­fore he was air­lifted by

an Ore­gon Army Na­tional Guard he­li­copter to a hos­pi­tal. He was later de­clared dead. Au­thor­i­ties have not re­leased his iden­tity.

Mount Hood, a peak no­to­ri­ous for loose ice and rocks in warm weather, is a pop­u­lar climb­ing site that has seen dozens of ac­ci­dents and fa­tal­i­ties over

the years. Thou­sands climb it each year, mostly in the spring.

The sun has been out this week and the tem­per­a­ture was around freez­ing at the spot where the climber fell, said Rus­sell Gubele of Moun­tain Wave Search and Res­cue.

“This is the kind of weather con­di­tions and the time of year where you of­ten get fall­ing ice, fall­ing rocks and prob­lems,” Gubele said. “It sounds like the con­di­tions up there are very un­safe right now.”

Climbers used their cell­phones to re­port that con­di­tions were hazardous and de­scribed the fall­ing rocks and ice “like a bowl­ing al­ley,” said Air Force Maj. Chris Bernard of the 304th Res­cue Squadron.

The stuck climbers were on or near the Hogs­back area near the sum­mit of the 11,240-foot moun­tain east of Port­land.

Res­cuers made it up to the other climbers Tues­day af­ter­noon at 10,500-foot el­e­va­tion and as­sessed them be­fore start­ing down the moun­tain.

Two climbers who were in the same party as the man who fell were guided down the moun­tain to a snow trac­tor, which took them to Tim­ber­line Lodge at 6,000 feet. Res­cuers used a sled and a rope sys­tem to bring down a woman in the party who said she was un­able to move.

Steve Rollins of Port­land Moun­tain Res­cue said the woman ar­rived at the Tim­ber­line Lodge just be­fore 8 p.m.

“It was very hard to move un­der these types of con­di­tions and she was very brave and very stoic dur­ing her evac­u­a­tion,” he said of the woman who was res­cued, adding that she was able to get out of the snow trac­tor un­der her own power.

Three other climbers made their way down the moun­tain with­out as­sis­tance, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff’s of­fice.

Wy­att Peck, 26, said he started to go up the moun­tain Tues­day, but turned around. He said the con­di­tions were so treach­er­ous that he and a friend could not get their pick­axes and cram­pons into the snow that was melt­ing from a hard freeze overnight.

Peck said oth­ers in his climb­ing group con­tin­ued, and he was con­cerned that they were among those stranded.

“I saw like I said a lot of peo­ple were strug­gling travers­ing,” he said. “I think they just got to the sum­mit and were so ex­hausted they didn’t know what to do to get back down — and that’s the hardest part, to get back down.”

DAVE KILLEN — THE ORE­GO­NIAN VIA AP

A res­cue he­li­copter and ground teams at­tempt to reach stranded climbers on Mount Hood in Ore­gon on Tues­day. Res­cuers scram­bled up Ore­gon’s tallest peak Tues­day af­ter a climber fell sev­eral hun­dred feet and sev­eral oth­ers were stranded, au­thor­i­ties said.

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