Mt. Hood Claims More Victims - Skiing Forum - Downhill , Cross Country Skiing Discussion Forum
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Mt. Hood Claims More Victims

On Friday, December 11`th, 3 northwest climbers embarked on a climb of the headwall to the Sandy Glacier and were expected to return that afternoon. The weather at the time was ideal for climbing with clear, cold and dry weather. People who climb Mt. Hood typically do so in the winter months because this mountain becomes unstable in the summer. It needs to be frozen good and hard to reduce the ice and rock falls.

By Sunday, they had found one climber dead on the Reid Glacier and the SAR people I talked to at Timberline Lodge which serves as the base of operations indicated there was evidence of a fall. The self proclaimed experts are already crying the "why do they climb when the weather is bad" cry and these people need to shut up and let the people who know what they are talking about do the talking.

The problem of weather came up long after the climbers were expected to be off the mountain and it`s impact is on the S&R operation and is expected to become worse. The new snow on Mt. Hood is resiting on a very weak layer of surface hoard from over a weak of extremely clear and cold weather. I dug a pit on Sunday and the top layer goes with the first few taps on a compression test. Up top the wind loading is producing areas of massive slabs and is a death trap to rescuers.

Whether you ski and ride or climb or white water raft, these recreational activities have risk. Sometimes even the best risk management strategies fail to protect you. It is a part of outdoor sports and is in fact part of the attraction. Statistically speaking, a well trained and experienced participant is far more safe perusing these activities than driving to the mountain. Sadly, the uniformed of the general population will spend months playing arm chair Quarterback and will feel compelled to see laws passed to protect us from risky behavior.

My heart goes out to the friends and family and I maintain a glimmer of hope that the two unaccounted for climbers may still be alive in a snow cave. But in the end, people who die just like all of us someday will from one cause or another, do so doing something they love doing. To rob people of that enjoyment in order to try to protect them comes at the cost of destroying the meaning of being alive in the first place and shame on them for it.


Here is the latest news on this situation:

Weather slows search for Ore. climbers - Life- msnbc.com
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There is such high and extreme avalanche danger on the mountain right now, it is not safe. After this much time, it is very doubtful they are still alive. There could be a chance for some air searches today as it is clearing up here in Portland between storms. Problem is with over 4 feet of new snow at the altitude, I doubt any clues are still visible. My guess is a crevasse in the Reid Glacier. I have dropped Illumination Saddle down onto it in the late spring and it is a scary place with deep crevasses!

Here is a shot of the Reid Glacier I took from the Cessna 182 a couple of summers ago.......




This is the upper Reid near the headwall and the traverse. A slip here if not roped in or if roped together but not anchored, could result in this "slow & long" fall the found victim experienced. There are some pretty nasty crevasses right at the bottom as this thing "levels" out.








Here is an interesting read of another climbers fortunately non fatal mishap on this Reid Headwall route that it is assumed these unfortunate souls perished on:

Santiam Alpine Club - Mount Hood, Reid Headwall Route Trip Report

And a sucessful climb past the headwall and up Leuthold's Couloir

CascadeClimbers.com | Trip Reports | Mt. Hood-Leuthold\'s Couloir 4/20/2009


Kind of heartbreaking, but here is the thread on Cascade Climbers forum...everybody in the PNW climbing community knew these folks......

Accident on Hood 12-11-09 - CascadeClimbers.com

Just for those wondering about mandatory PLB use and charging for rescue, here is an interesting article from Portland Mountain Rescue on this:

Portland Mountain Rescue | Pressroom | Headline Story
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've been trying to keep of with this story on the news. Truly a sad story.
My thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

From what I have heard & read they didn't have GPS locaters..is that true, does anyone know?
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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OMG, such sad news.



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Old 12-19-2009, 03:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlchael4 View Post
I've been trying to keep of with this story on the news. Truly a sad story.
My thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

From what I have heard & read they didn't have GPS locaters..is that true, does anyone know?
No, they did not have any kind of locator. On Hood, there is a system known as a MLU (Mountain Locator Unit) it is`nt a very reliable system however. I carry an actual 401 MHZ personal locator beacon with GPS. It is registered with NOAA and when I push the panic button, a signal is sent via satellite to a command center who then dispatches local SAR. The 401 MHZ signal also acts like an ELT that aircraft can pick up. The only downside to these systems is you have to actively call for help. In a fall situation where the victim may be unconscious, the unit is not active and can`t send a signal.
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