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