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Mount Hood climbers fall from Sandy Glacier Headwall

Climber Dead, one Injured on Mt Hood's Sandy Glacier
Thursday, November 4, 2004
(Updated 11/5/04)
News Release by Portland Mountain Rescue

An early season climbing accident took the life of one mountaineer and seriously injured another during a climb of the Sandy Headwall on Mount Hood's northwest face.

It is not yet known exactly how the accident occurred, but the two men fell 300 to 500 feet from the Sandy Headwall route and slid at high speed into a 40-foot deep crevasse on the Sandy Glacier, near 8,500 feet in elevation.

The least injured climber was able to place a cell phone call to 9-1-1 around 11:30 AM. Subsequently, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office launched a rescue mission and summoned Portland Mountain Rescue and American Medical Response (AMR) shortly after noon.

Initially, little was known about the climbers' location, but Steve Rollins, a PMR rescue leader, was able to make direct phone contact with the climbers and learned that they were near the Sandy Headwall - a very remote area of Mount Hood (see map above). Rollins quickly passed this information to the Sheriff's Office and advised the mobilization of air support to reach the victims in the fastest possible time.

The first rescuers to reach the mountain were a PMR volunteer and professionals from the AMR Reach and Treat (RAT) Team. RAT Team paramedic Dave Mull and PMR rescuer Matt Cline received a sno-cat ride to Illumination Saddle and proceeded to cross the Reid Glacier and Yocum Ridge on foot in order to reach the scene. This process took nearly five hours.

While the two-man team was traversing the mountain's West Face, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from the Oregon Army National Guard 1042nd Air Ambulance Unit ferried PMR rescuers Bob Brownback and Marty Johnson from Timberline Lodge to the Sandy Glacier. The least injured climber crawled out of the crevasse and successfully directed the helicopter to the remote location. As Portland area residents watched a live television feed from a Newschannel 8 helicopter, the PMR team and one National Guard medic were lowered into the crevasse.

After discovering the other climber had no pulse, the rescuers performed CPR until it was obvious that the patient could not be revived. The cause of death is not yet known.

During this time, the Blackhawk returned with two AMR RAT Team paramedics and the team's attention turned to the surviving climber. He was suffering from multiple broken bones and other possible injuries, so the rescuers packaged the man in a litter for transport to Portland. The helicopter delivered the patient to Emanuel Hospital around 6:20 PM. He is expected to completely recover from his injuries.

The body of the deceased climber, as well as the rescue teams, were air lifted to Mount Hood's Timberline Lodge around 9:00 PM, bringing the more than 9-hour rescue mission to a close.

The 11,239-foot mountain recently received large accumulations of snow, but the conditions at the time of the accident were relatively good for early November. Both climbers were experienced.

Even though the victims were able to summon help using a cell phone, they failed to register at the Timberline Lodge climbing register prior to their climb. Had rescuers been unable to contact the man on his phone, it would have been next to impossible to determine the location of the accident. PMR encourages all climbers and hikers to complete the free registration prior to entering the Mount Hood Wilderness. Registration can help save a life should an accident occur.


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Read more . . .
Portland Mountain Rescue

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