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Mt. Hood climber falls descending Mazama Chute

Climber falls down Mazama Chute
From the Portland Mountain Rescue Website
July 6, 2008

At approximately 11:00 am Sunday, July 06, 2008 Portland Mountain Rescue was activated to assist in rescue of a climber who had taken a fall down the Mazama Chute at around the 10,800 ft level on Mt Hood.

The climber was descending with his team when he fell 100 feet down the slope. It was unclear what caused the fall, but when the climber’s party reached him, he was unconscious. Another climbing party that had witnessed the fall made a call to 911.

PMR member Dave Clarke was already on the mountain and was the first rescuer to reach the scene. He was joined shortly thereafter by two AMR Reach and Treat teams. The patient’s condition necessitated an air evacuation by the Oregon National Guard 1042nd Medical Company. A second PMR team was dispatched carrying ropes and a liter as a contingency plan in case the air evacuation was not possible. Other PMR members were staged at Timberline Lodge on standby. The 1042nd was successfully able to hoist the patient from the scene of the accident and flew him to OHSU. All teams were out of the field around 4:30 pm.

It’s important to remember to begin climbs early at this time of year to ensure that you are off of the summit before the snow softens and also to use proper climbing safety equipment.




What can climbers learn from this common event?

It is not made clear whether the climber was wearing a helmet. It is clear that even a "short sliding fall" can be dangerous. His fellow climbers are lucky that other climbers were not carried down with him.

Down climbing facing in with the ice axe in the stake self belay position does not seem to be part of the techniques of many beginning climbers. Done correctly, there is little possibility of a catastrophic slide.

This accident was reported by a cell phone.

Mt. Hood is said to be "out of condition" in the summer. Ramps of winter snow blown over the top of ridges and summit are replaced by steep walls of rotten ice at the Pearly Gates on the south side Standard Route. The Mazama Route is a steep alternative.  When the route is hard ice, basic fourth class techniques are usually required.

Read More below for information about some of the objective hazards of climbing volcanic cones.
--Webmeister Speik


A suggested minimum standard news advisory for all backcountry travelers

"We would like to take this opportunity to ask our visitors to the backcountry of Oregon to plan for the unexpected.  Each person should dress for the forecast weather and take minimum extra clothing protection from a drop in temperature and possible rain or snow storm or an unexpected cold wet night out, insulation from the wet ground or snow, high carbohydrate snacks, two quarts of water or Gatorade, a map and compass and optional inexpensive GPS and the skills to use them, and a charged cell phone and inexpensive walkie-talkie radios. Carry the traditional personal "Ten Essentials Systems" in a day pack sized for the season and the forecast weather.

Visitors are reminded to tell a Responsible Person where they are going, where they plan to park, when they will be back and to make sure that person understands that they are relied upon to call 911 at a certain time if the backcountry traveler has not returned. If you become lost or stranded, mark your location and stay still or move around your marked location to stay warm. Do not try to find your way until you are exhausted, or worse yet - wet. Wait for rescuers.



"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:
Mount Hood - Accident claims three lives; rescue helicopter crashes
Mt. Rainier -  Fatality from falling rock in summer conditions
North Sister - Climbers swept by avalanche while descending Thayer Glacier Snowfield
North Sister - AAC Report of fatal fall from east side by Martina Testa
Mount Hood - Climber injured by falling ice, rescued by helicopter
Mount Hood - Avalanche proves fatal for member of Mazamas climbing group
Mount Hood - Final Report to the American Alpine Club on the loss of three climbers in December 2006
Mount Hood - Veteran climber injured during ice axe arrest on Mt Hood

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

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  Sample Prospectus    Make sure every leader tells you what the group is going to do; print a copy for your "responsible person"
  Participant Information Form    This pdf form can be printed and mailed or handed to the Leader if requested or required
  Emergency and Incident Report Form    Copy and print this form. Carry two copies with your Essentials 
  Participant and Group First Aid Kit   
Print this form. Make up your own first aid essentials (kits) 

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