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Mount Hood fatal fall from the summit

"The primary purpose of these experience reports and the Annual Report of Accidents in North American Mountaineering is to aid in the prevention of accidents."

Fall on hard snow, unroped at he summit, wind
Oregon, Mount Hood

On June 4, 2000, Diana Kornet (29) slipped as she was looking over the northeast side of Mt Hood. She fell about 2500 ft to her death. She and six friends had reached the summit about 7 am. She unroped - as many climbers do - and left her ice axe when she went to take a look. It was windy in this exposed location.
-Source: From articles in The Oregonian and Jeff Sheetz
--Report from the 2001 edition of "Accidents in North American Mountaineering"


Comments that may contribute to an understanding of this tragic accident

The Oregonian
June 17, 2007
From Sources
A woman who had reached the summit of Mount Hood early yesterday apparently slipped and fell more than 2,500 feet to her death, the Hood River County Sheriff's Office said.

The victim was identified as Diana Kornet, 29, of Portland.

The woman apparently was looking over the mountain's northeast side after scaling the 11,240-foot summit with six friends when the accident occurred.

"She was sightseeing over the northeast side and got too close to the edge and fell," Sheriff's Sgt. Dwayne Troxel said. "She still had crampons on but wasn't carrying an ice axe and was unroped."

After one of her companions called 911, the sheriff's office sent a search plane and found Kornet's body at the 8,700-foot level at the top of Eliot Glacier.
It was about 15 feet from the spot where two climbers were found dead after falling during an ascent of the mountain last May.

Climbing experts said the accident could have been avoided.

Rocky Henderson, a Portland Mountain Rescue Unit volunteer who was climbing yesterday, examined the area where Kornet fell and said gusty winds at the summit could have been a factor. But he said the woman should have kept her ropes attached to her or had her ice axe in hand to keep her from falling.

Henderson said it looked as if the woman may have stepped down to a lower ridge to get out of the wind and then slipped off the edge.

"She put herself in harm's way, and harm happened," he said.

Kornet was an experienced backpacker and climber who had scaled Mount Hood and two other major Northwest peaks last summer.

Letter to the Editor, Oregonian, Saturday, June 17, 2000 (Response to above article)
I write on behalf of the family of Diana Bradford Kornet and the members of her Mount Hood climbing party. Some clarification is called for on the article about Kornet's tragic death ("Mount Hood climber falls to her death," June 5). 

The article stated that Rocky Henderson of Portland Mountain Rescue "said it looked as though Kornet stepped down to a lower ridge, about 30 feet off the summit, to get out of the wind and then slipped off the edge." 

As the article indicated, Henderson was not on the summit at the time of the accident. Henderson looked at the accident site when he reached the summit and noticed footprints on the ledge. Those footprints were not made by anyone in our climbing party. 

Kornet fell from the main summit plateau where many other climbers were unroped and moving about. The accident occurred as summit photographs were being taken. However, no one saw the start of the fall. We do not know the cause of the fall. 

The Kornet family and the remaining six members of the climbing party would like to thank all those who acted selflessly on that tragic day. 
Foster Nostrand, Northeast Portland 
Source: Oregon Mountaineering Association


What can mountain climbers learn from this tragic accident?

Experience tells us that the moment adhesion to hard snow is lost on even a moderate slope, gravity will pull a climber silently and swiftly down hill.  Instant action (self belay/arrest) is required to stop a slide before it becomes uncontrollable. I have no knowledge of what happened on Mt. Hood while the summit photos were being taken. But I feel compelled to make note here, what I have personally experienced and observed in the mountains. --Webmeister Speik




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


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