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Family of five and exhausted Great Dane dog rescued from South Sister Climber's Trail

Subject: Mission Information
Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Unit
August 28, 2006

The following hopefully will give everyone a better idea of last nights 'Great Dane' mission.

Situation--the page came from dispatch at 19:22 advising we had a stranded woman, 4 children, and Great Dane up on the South Sister. Our page to SAR a few minutes later purposely did not state this was a dog extraction as in fact it was a whole family extraction.

A woman from Junction City, 4 children ages 7, 14, 16, 17 and a large Great Dane dog left home at 4:30 AM Sunday, arriving at the Devils Lake TH by 9:00 AM. They all proceeded to the summit of South Sister, summiting at 4:30 PM. On the descent they got to the 7,000 foot level (about 3/4 of a mile north of Moraine Lake) by about 6:30 PM at which time the dog could go no further. It apparently had developed sore hips to the point where it refused to proceed plus its pads were very well worn and it was exhausted. With many dogs this would be a minor or moderate inconvenience and challenge for a climbing team to carry it the remaining 3 miles out to the TH. However, this dog was about 140 pounds and impossible for the party to handle. Other climbers in the area attempted to assist using tarps for a litter but the dog refused to cooperate and wouldn't calm down when lifted. These others did, however, loan our party a flashlight as they were not at all equipped for cold nor dark.

The party called for assistance and SAR was dispatched. 2 teams were deployed - a 3 person Horse team plus nurse from Green Lakes TH, and a second team of 5 taking the wheeled litter up the Devils Lake climber's trail. An emergency vet clinic had been contacted and a sedative/pain killer injection and IV solution obtained, which was taken in by horse along with the SAR member who is an RN.

The hiking team left at 2200 and arrived on scene first at 23:48. The subjects were tired and getting cold from the hours standing around. It was in the low 60s with very light wind but they were all wearing cotton pants and sweat shirts, had a long day and had been stationary for about 5 hours. The dog's condition hadn't changed. Warm clothing and hot drinks were provided to the climbers.

The Horse Team arrived a few minutes later at 00:04. The sedative injection was given to the dog (the dog was sufficiently hydrated so the IV wasn't necessary). After the sedative took effect, 3 SAR members lifted the dog onto the front of Kerri Raymond's saddle where she stabilized it. With another team member leading her horse, Kerri kept the dog balanced over her saddle and started down. The 7 year old was secured into the wheeled litter rather than hand carried. She was OK but would have quickly tired out from walking with the team. The trail soon became too treacherous for safe passage on horse. All riders had to dismount and walk back to Moraine Lake. The dog was transferred to the wheeled liter and the child hand carried on one of our member' backs to Moraine Lake. The entire group proceeded out to the Green Lakes TH. Once it was safe for the riders to mount up again, the young child was placed on the horse with Kerri. The 14 year old was placed on a second horse which was lead by the rider. All arrived at the Green Lakes TH by 0330 Monday morning. The sedative had worn off and the dog became active just upon arrival but still was unable to walk.

Typically SAR doesn't handle animal rescues. In this case, the condition of the dog threatened exposure of the climbing team, who refused to abandon the animal. There were no other options for safely transporting the animal to the trail head and off to a vet. It remains unclear at this time how long the dog's condition will take to heal but it certainly wouldn't have happened anytime during the night. Without food and extra clothing, the climbers would have spent a long night out in increasingly cool conditions and still had to deal with the situation the next morning.

The wheeled litter accommodated the dog well, though the hind legs stuck out over the side and had to be watched. Weight distribution was a bit off to one side but easily compensated for. The Horse Team was a great asset in transporting the SAR medic to the scene and transporting the two youngest children out. Had the trail conditions been safer higher up, the dog could have ridden out the entire way across a saddle. There was no advantage in removing the dog from the wheeled litter and again placing it on the horse once the trail was safe again for riding.

Thanks to all who spent a long night out under the stars performing an unusual medical evacuation for a grateful family. With two pages we had the 3 person horse team, 6 very strong ground team members, plus overhead team of 4.

We have spoken to the family today and while tired they have arrived safely back in Junction City and again expressed their appreciation. Misty the dog has not moved yet to any substantial degree.
--Al Hornish, SAR Volunteer Coordinator

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office
63333 Highway 20 West, Bend, Oregon 97701



Here is our analysis of this experience

We are glad that this preventable mis-adventure had a happy outcome!

The purpose of posting this story here is to inform folks about some of the hidden dangers of hiking the hills and summitting peaks. Learning from the experiences of others is often the best way to avoid these inherent risks.

Climbing South Sister is not a hike. The climber's way is classified as Climbing Class 2 to 3 out of 6 Classes. The climb is 5,000 vertical feet up and then back down. The real distance is close to 12 "trail" miles, up and down. There is no marked "trail" on the upper slopes. The steep loose sharp volcanic scree cuts dogs feet and human hands, should the humans slip and use their hands to stop. It is simply not appropriate to climb South Sister with a dog.

Heat can overcome the unprepared in the Summer. Failure to bring enough water, at least three quarts per person in the Summer, and improper clothing which does not provide light weight ventilation and sun protection can lead to heat exhaustion. High altitude Summer sun will bake the face and neck of the climber on the right side in the morning and on the same right side in the afternoon giving a double dose of sunburn to the un-prepared and un-informed. On other days, ice cold jet stream winds can chill a climber without the proper protective clothing into a hypothermic state, impairing thinking and balance. Having to sit out the night with an exhausted or injured companion, the Great Dane, can be a nasty experience anywhere on this exposed climber's trace. Cotton pants and sweat shirts are never an option in the hills.

The experience of thousands of avid hikers and climbers over 30 years, members of The Mountaineers, the respected Seattle based climbing and outdoor club, dictates that each person in the outdoor group must carry certain gear that will protect the individual and when pooled, the entire group  This personal gear is called The Ten Essentials. The list has been published and discussed in countless articles in the media. The best place to learn more (beyond this website, of course) is in the 7th or earlier editions of Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills by The Mountaineers Press. Of course, extra water, food bars and wind jackets and light insulation should have been carried by this family. (We assume they were re-supplied by concerned folks passing bye. This is not mentioned in the SAR Report).

People have climbed Mt Everest and then, unable to return, they died. Others have failed to conform to an established and agreed upon reasonable turn around time and were swept away by storms. Summiting South Sister at 4:30PM after a 9AM start (seven and a half hours up) is a questionable achievement considering the stress injuries and trail accidents that often occur on the 5,000 foot eight mile descent from this summit. Why did it take so much time to summit? This family should have turned around to climb again. We hope that Misty, the 140 pound dog has survived her ordeal.

Read more from the links below that include a South Sister Prospectus for an adult hiking group and photos of that climb. What would have happened if the cell phone call had not connected?  We note that a cell phone call from this family effected the rescue and avoided a cold and distressful night on the mountain. Read the Basic Responsibilities and The Ten Essential Systems.

Note: Recent HIPPA Federal laws prevent the Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Unit from providing a telephone number for the rescued adult. The name, age and town can be released, but not the phone number.  We have been unable to find a way to contact this woman to update the condition of the Great Dane and the family members. --Webmeister.



"To provide information and instruction about world-wide basic to advanced alpine mountain climbing safety skills and gear, on and off trail hiking, scrambling and light and fast Leave No Trace backpacking techniques based on the foundation of an appreciation for the Stewardship of the Land, all illustrated through photographs and accounts of actual shared mountaineering adventures."

TraditionalMountaineering is founded on the premise that "He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught", that exploring the hills and summitting peaks have dangers that are hidden to the un-informed and that these inherent risks can be in part, identified and mitigated by mentoring: information, training, wonderful gear, and knowledge gained through the experiences of others.

The value of TraditionalMountaineering to our Friends and Subscribers is the selectivity of the information we provide, and its relevance to introducing folks to informed hiking on the trail, exploring off the trail, mountain travel and Leave-no-Trace light-weight bivy and backpacking, technical travel over steep snow, rock and ice, technical glacier travel and a little technical rock climbing on the way to the summit. Whatever your capabilities and interests, there is a place for everyone in traditional alpine mountaineering.




Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated


Read more . . .
Prospectus for a climb of South Sister
Photos of a climb of South Sister
Longacre Expeditions teen group rescued from the snowdrifts above Todd Lake
Lost climber hikes 6.5 miles from South Sister Trail to Elk Lake

  Lost and Found
Lost Family trying to climb South Sister in May calls 911
Family of five and exhausted Great Dane dog rescued from South Sister Climber's Trail
Hiking couple lost three nights in San Jacinto Wilderness find abandoned gear
Expert skier lost five days in North Cascades without Essentials, map and compass
Climber disappears on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin
Hiker lost five days in freezing weather on Mount Hood
Professor and son elude search and rescue volunteers
Found person becomes lost and eludes rescuers for five days
Teens, lost on South Sister, use cell phone with Search and Rescue
Lost man walks 27 miles to the highway from Elk Lake Oregon
Snowboarder Found After Week in Wilderness
Searchers rescue hiker at Smith Rock, find lost climbers on North Sister
Girl Found In Lane County After Lost On Hiking Trip
Search and rescue finds young girls lost from family group
Portland athlete lost on Mt. Hood
Rescues after the recent snows
Novice couple lost in the woods
Broken Top remains confirmed as missing climber
Ollalie Trail - OSU Trip - Lost, No Map, Inadequate Clothing

  About Alpine Mountaineering:
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  Climbing Together
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  The Mountaineers' Rope
  Basic Responsibilities       Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
  The Ten Essentials         Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales

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  Participant and Group First Aid Kit    Print this form. Make up your own first aid essentials (kits) 

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