TraditionalMountaineering Logo - representing the shared 
companionship of the Climb

Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links | Search

  Search this site!
Read more:

Climber slips and slides down icy face from the Hogsback on Mt. Hood

Climber slips and slides down icy face on Mount Hood
June 21, 2012
By Staff

A climber survived a fall down an icy slope on the Hogsback area of Mount Hood on Thursday morning.

Sgt. Adam Phillips with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said the climber was 52-year-old Gary Morgan from Clarkston, Mich. He was apparently on a solo climb when he slipped and slid about 400-500 feet down an icy face.

Two witnesses said Morgan was sliding very fast and at one point was launched across a crevasse. He stopped when his legs hit the ice on the other side, breaking the slide.

"He fell right into this crevasse area," said witness Mike Claypool. "He had no ice ax or crampons."

"You could just see the horror in his face," said witness Paul Christian.

Sheriff's deputies said Morgan did have crampons but one fell off during the fall. He also had leather hiking boots, a hiking pole, a bicycle helmet and a day pack.

He did not have an ice ax, which is considered standard equipment for mountain climbing.

He suffered a serious injury to his hip and leg, as well as some other smaller injuries, Phillips said.

"He was somehow able to turn around like he knew head first he wasn't going to be able to survive," Claypool said. "I think that might have saved his life."

Clackamas County dispatchers first got a 9-1-1 call about the fall just before 9:30 a.m.

Video from Jet Ranger 2 showed people sitting near Morgan as they waited for a rescue near the base of Crater Rock. He was wrapped up in a thermal blanket to stay warm.

Rescue teams from Portland Mountain Rescue were in the area guiding the family of Mark Cartier for a memorial service.

Cartier was the experienced climber who fell 1,000 feet to his death in the same area last week.

Rescuers were able to quickly reach Morgan and offer him help.

Morgan was carried out to a snow vehicle near the Palmer Ski Lift and brought down the mountain. Rescue crews couldn't get the man off the mountain and to a hospital until late afternoon.

Morgan was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

According to the sheriff's office, he had some climbing experience but had never climbed Mount Hood.
--See photos and video of this accident and the Hogsback, linked below:


What can mountain climbers learn from this accident?

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

County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Units (and Fire Departments, etc.) are prohibited by HIPAA Regulations from providing information about the folks they rescue. I am unable to talk to "52-year-old Gary Morgan from Clarkston, Mich". If Gary Morgan will contact me, I can provide more information from his perspective. The following is based on my personal mountaineering experience (including Mt. Hood), classes and seminars I have taken and taught for over 40 years.

"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 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."

Several questions concern me as an accident analyst at this writing, about this serious mountaineering accident.
1. The climber was not a local man. Reportedly, he had no experience in climbing Mt. Hood. Climbing volcanic Mt. Hood safely, requires knowledge, unknown to the uninformed. Climbers are told to "Be Prepared", but there is more to Being Prepared than a list of recommended things.

It is very late in the season for a climb of Mt. Hood. The heavy 40 foot deep, high snows of winter are melting and consolidating to form hard and often icy, very steep slopes There have been several serious slips and slides of hundreds of feet at very high velocity from the area of the Hogback snow formation in recent weeks. One very fit and experienced climber died there a few days ago. In the "early spring Hood climbing season", the Hogsback is a broad safe place to stop, drink Gatorade, take a "split break", have a Clif Bar and rope-up. This is not the condition now, at the end of the season!

The mountain climber on snow slopes needs to know how to carry and use a long traditional mountaineering Ice Axe. Members of large traditional mountaineering clubs, such as The Mazamas and the (Seattle based) Mountaineers learn and practice Ice Axe Belays and Ice Axe Arrests at little or no cost in groups, from practice on steep hard snow "appropriate" slopes from trained and experienced Volunteer Instructors. A slide down the practice slope head first on your back is a shock, I will guarantee it! The speed of a fall is slowed only by the friction of the climber's clothing and harness. Speeds on steep hard snow slopes can reach the speed of a free fall from a cliff.

2. The use of a single or of double hiking poles prevents using an ice axe. It is a dangerous practice on steep hard snow slopes.

3. Mr. Morgan lost a crampon in his fall. If a climber must wear crampons in climbing up or down climbing steep hard snow, in a fall, the climber must keep his/her knees bent and the crampons away from the snow. A caught crampon can break a femur and dislocate or break a hip if it catches at 30 or 40 miles per hour. The climber may be thrown into the air and begin cart wheeling down the slope until the slope eases and crevasses or blocks of avalanche debris ice or talus stone blocks halt the terminal fall. A lost crampon on a broken leg is a sure sign of a caught crampon wrenched from the boot.

4. The use of a Space Blanket or "thermal blanket", without an insulating pad placed between the person and the ice gives a very false sense of security against Hypothermia. Each mountaineer MUST carry an inexpensive 6 oz. insulating "ensolite" pad (or a more packable waterproof inflatable pad, rated for good thermal insulation). The insulating pad can be carried in or on a light weight summit pack, filled with the trip-selected Ten Essential Systems

5. The use of an ordinary digital cell phone to call 9-1-1 is noted. Each person in a group should carry their personal cell phone. "Yuppie 911 Devices can take the search out of Search and Rescue."

6. Note that it took many hours, from 0930 to late afternoon for Mr. Morgan to reach a hospital, even under the most fortunate circumstances


Mt. Hood Climbing Fatalities

Mt. Hood Climbing Fatalities
by staff
June 14, 2012

Mount Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon, is a popular site among climbers in the United States. In 25 years, it has been the site of dozens of climbing accidents and fatalities.

The worst on record happened in May 1986 when nine people -- seven students from Oregon Episcopal School and two adults -- died after they dug a snow cave during a sudden storm.

February 2012 - Jared Townsley, 32, of Tigard was found dead below Crater Rock after what was believed to have been a fall in icy conditions.

December 2009 - Reid Glacier: Luke T. Gullberg, 26, of Des Moines, Washington is found dead at the 9,000-feet level of Mt. Hood on a day-climb with two friends (whose bodies were found in the spring of 2010)..

January 2009 - Hogsback: Brooke Colvin, 31, is killed after being struck by falling ice in the area below the Pearly Gates and knocked several hundred feet down the mountain. She was climbing with her husband, 33-year-old Thad Stavn.

July 2008 - Cooper Spur: Gary Lee, 55, is descending from the summit on the Cooper Spur route when he's struck by a falling rock. His body is located 1,000 feet below, just above the Elliot Glacier.

December 2006 - Cooper Spur: Kelly James, Brian Hall, and Jerry Cooke attempt to scale the difficult north side of the mountain and perish in a storm. James' body is later found in a snow cave near the summit. (Hall and Cooke's bodies are not found).

November 2004 - Sandy Glacier: Kenny D. Kasselder, 37, dies after falling into a crevasse about 30 feet deep on the Sandy Glacier on the west side.

March 2003 - South Side: Fred Frauens, 49, leaves Timberline Lodge on a solo snowshoe hike up the south slope. He is last seen at 9,500 feet.

May 30, 2002 - South Side: Three groups of climbers -- nine people in all -- fall into a crevasse on the south slope. Rick Read, 48, and Bill Ward, 49, both of Forest Grove, and John Biggs, 62, of Windsor, Calif., die from the fall.

May 24, 2002 - Cooper Spur: Snowboarder Juancarlos Munoz, 30, attempts to snowboard from the summit but dies after falling 2,500 feet onto Eliot Glacier. Munoz, an Argentine, was living in Government Camp and working at Timberline Lodge.

September 2001: Karoly Janos Orsi, 26, a Hungarian exchange student, disappears on a solo day hike.
August 2001: Evan Clark, 15, of Hinsdale, Ill., dies after a chunk of ice crushes him near the Cloud Cap hiking area.

June 4, 2000 - Summit: Diana B. Kornet, 29, of Portland, who had reached the summit, slips as she looks over the mountain's northeast side and falls more than 2,500 feet to her death.

May 23, 1999 - Cooper Spur: Carey Cardon, 31, and Tena Cardon, 29, of Hillsboro, who reached the summit, die shortly after starting their descent, falling together about 1,500 feet along the northeast face. One of them slips and pulls the other as they descend the Cooper Spur route.

May 31, 1998 - West Crater Rim: Tom McGlinn, a 39-year-old climbing with a Mazamas climbing class, is buried and killed when snow and rock give way on the mountain's west side near Illumination Rock.

September 6, 1997 - Cooper Spur: Mark Fraas, 40, dies after falling 1,500 feet while climbing the Cooper Spur route on the northeast face.

September 1995 - Cathedral Ridge: Ken Budlong, 45, of Portland disappears on a solo climb via the Cathedral Ridge route in Hood River County.

July 1994 - Cooper Spur: Four climbers roped together fall 700 feet down the Cooper Spur route, stopping at the lip of a crevasse on Eliot Glacier. Ole Groupe, 16, of Pendleton and Jerry Milton, 51, of McMinnville die in the fall. The other climbers are rescued by helicopter.

July 18, 1991 - John Pospisil III, 14, dies when he and his 12-year-old brother, Luke, lose control during an intentional slide and fall into a canyon while descending during a family outing. Luke Pospisil survives.

June 1990 - The body of George W. Ott, 76, of Corvallis, is recovered from the face of Mount Hood after he dies of hypothermia. Ott's widow, Marian, says she did not expect her husband, who had terminal cancer, to return from the trip he had chosen to make by himself.

July 11, 1987 - South Side: Arthur Andersen Jr., 59, of Sherwood, dies when he and two other men fall into the Bergschrund crevasse.

May 13, 1986 - South Side: Seven students and two adults from Oregon Episcopal School freeze to death after being trapped in a whiteout while ascending. Killed are Tasha Amy, 15; Alison Litzenberger, 15; Richard Header,16; Erik Sandvik, 15; Susan Elizabeth McClave, 17; Patrick Francis Mcginness, 15; Erin O'Leary, 15; the Rev. Dr. Thomas Goman, 41, and Marion Horwell, 40.

June 20, 1982 - Leuthold Couloir: While in Leuthold Couloir a large avalanche came down from above and caught one rope team of three climbers. One climber was killed by the crushing action of this type of avalanche.

June 21, 1981 - Cooper Spur: Five people in a group of climbers die in a fall from Cooper Spur while descending. Killed on Mount Hood are Jim Darby, 35, Newberg; Garth Westcott, 35, Bend; Larry Young, 30, Corvallis; George Anderson, 36, Boring; and Leah Lorenson, 39, Vancouver.

June 6, 1981 - Cooper Spur: David H. Turple, 51, of Portland and Bill Pilkenton, 17, of Newberg die in a fall from Cooper Spur to Eliot Glacier.

April 26, 1975 - White River Canyon: A Mazamas mountaineering class attempted to cross White River Canyon and some were caught in an avalanche. One died.

June 20, 1959 - South Side: A group of Explorer Scouts were caught in a wet snow avalanche above the bergschrund and carried into it. One died.



See yonder height! 'Tis far away -- unbidden comes the word "Impossible!"

"Not so," says the mountaineer.  "The way is long, I know; its difficult -- it may be dangerous."

"It's possible, I'm sure; I'll seek the way, take counsel of my brother mountaineers,
and find out how they have reached similar heights and learned to avoid the dangers."

He starts (all slumbering down below); the path is slippery and may be dangerous too. 
Caution and perseverance gain the day -- the height is reached! and those beneath cry, "Incredible! 'Tis superhuman!"

This is a passage we found on page 161 of "Scrambles Amongst the Alps" by Edward Wymper,
first published in 1871 and reprinted 1981 by Ten Speed Press, Berkley, CA.




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


Read more . . .
Mount Hood - Climber slips and slides down icy face on Mount Hood from the Hogsback
Mount Hood - Climber dies in 1,000' solo fall from the Hogback
Mount Hood - Experienced Climber dies in solo fall on hard snow
Mount Hood - Analysis of the December 2009 deaths of three climbers on Reid Glacier Headwall
Mount Hood - Fatal ice fall below the Pearly Gates during warming winter weather
Mount Hood - Fatal rock fall below the Eliot Glacier Headwall during summer conditions
Mount Hood - Climber falls 300 feet descending the South Side from the summit
Mount Hood - Climber falls descending Mazama Chute from summit
Mount Hood - Lessons learned from the latest lost Mt. Hood climbers
Mount Hood - Two climbers become lost descending the South Side
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
Mount Hood - Climber injured by falling ice, rescued by helicopter
Mount Hood - Three climbers, their MLU and a dog "rescued"
Mount Hood - Three North Face climbers lost
Mount Hood - What happened to the three climbers on the North Face?
Mount Hood - Solo climber falls from Cooper Spur
Mount Hood - Climbing accident claims three lives -Final Report and our Analysis 
Mount Hood - Notable mountain climbing accidents Analyzed 
Mount Hood - Solo hiker drowns while crossing Mt. Hood's Sandy River
Mount Hood - Solo climber slides into the Bergschrund and is found the following day
Mount Hood - The Episcopal School Tragedy 
Mount Hood - Experienced climbers rescued from snow cave
Mount Hood - A personal description of the south side route
Mount Hood - Fatal avalanche described by Climbing Ranger
Mount Hood - Avalanche proves fatal for members of Mazamas climbing group
Mount Hood - Snowboard rider dies on Cooper Spur
Mount Hood - Fatal fall on snow, Cooper Spur Route
Mount Hood - Fatal fall on snow from the summit
Mount Hood - Climb shows the need for knowledge
Mount Hood - Climb ends in tragedy
Mount Hood - Rescue facilitated by use of a VHF radio!