www.TraditionalMountaineering.org ™ and also www.AlpineMountaineering.org ™
FREE BASIC TO ADVANCED
ALPINE MOUNTAIN CLIMBING INSTRUCTION™
Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links | Search
Search this site!
Recovery Mission on the Eliot Glacier Headwall
From the Portland Mountain Rescue Website
July 28, 2008
Late afternoon on Sunday, July 27th, Portland Mountain Rescue received a call-out from Hood River County Sheriffs Office requesting our assistance with a rescue on the north side of Mt Hood. A 55-year-old man, climbing with his son, had been struck by a rock while descending Cooper Spur after a successful ascent of the Sunshine Route. The impact caused the climber to tumble out of control, off the flank of the Spur, and out of sight over the Eliot Headwall -falling approximately 1000 feet.
PMR members began assembling at Cloud Cap Inn at 8:30 pm. At the same time, a fixed-wing aircraft was conducting a search of the upper Eliot and the Headwall. The pilot and observer were able to identify with some confidence where the climber had come to rest -at the base of a vertical waterfall, about 80 feet from the Eliot Glacier. Confirmation of the location was provided after dark by a helicopter from the Oregon National Guard 1042nd Medical Company equipped with a powerful spotlight. This flight also determined that the man was probably deceased.
At approximately 2:45 am, two PMR teams, each accompanied by a member of the Crag Rats (Hood River Search and Rescue), entered the field. The rescue teams were to stage a team at an area above the fallen climber and another team below on the Eliot Glacier. The rescue team below encountered a large bergschrund, decomposing snow ramps, and was exposed to high amounts of rock fall. Because of these hazardous conditions the lower team aborted their efforts to reach the fallen climber's body. At around 8:00 am the upper team began lowering a rescuer from the Crag Rats down to the body. Natural rock fall at the time was minimal, but rock fall induced by operations was still a factor. Unfortunately, the 300-foot ropes fell short of reaching the slotted waterfall where the subject had come to rest. The rescuer was raised back up, options were considered, and a request was put in for delivery of a 600-foot rope.
Because of lack of time and available personnel to carry the heavy rope package up the mountain, the 1042nd was recruited again, but this time to perform a basket drop. This was accomplished in the early afternoon. At around 3:00 pm, using the longer rope, the upper team was successful at lowering a rescuer down to reach the fallen climber's body. The subject was attached to the lowering system and then both the subject and rescuer were lowered the rest of the way down to the glacier. This process took several hours due to the difficult terrain and tediousness of navigating around obstacles on the mountain, but eventually the rescuers were able to get the subject down onto the Eliot Glacier.
The lower team packaged the subject into a litter and began moving down the glacier at around 5:30 pm. Additional volunteers from PMR, Multnomah County and Klickitat
County SAR met the convoy where the trail leaves the glacier and climbs the moraine. The subject was then ferried down the remainder of the mountain on a wheeled litter arriving at Cloud Cap around 8:45 pm.
Photo of rescuers on the Eliot Glacier on the North side of Mt. Hood, Oregon.
Courtesy of Steve Rollins.
Mt Hood's Sunshine and Cooper Spur routes, although fun and challenging, are best achieved earlier on in the season when there is the appropriate amount of snow coverage to help minimize hazardous rock fall. If attempting these, along with all the various climbing routes on the mountain, later in the season, it is best to begin at an early hour when temperatures are colder and to have alternate descent plans in mind in case route conditions are different from expected. Also it is strongly encouraged to wear the proper climbing safety equipment.
What can climbers learn from this tragic event?
Steve Rollins helps make the point that the objective dangers of soft snow and rock fall on warming slopes in the summer may make the risks too high for the rewards of a local summit. This increased risk from warming snow slopes is the same during all of the seasons, but summer puts the climber face to face with soft snow footing and skipping rocks whistling past, not to mention slough avalanches and major releases and rockfall.
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.
There are several accidents reported on this
website caused by rock fall and sliding warming summer slopes. Read More below for
some of the objective hazards of climbing volcanic cones.
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.
THE MISSION of TraditionalMountaineering.org
"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.
WARNING - *DISCLAIMER!*
Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated
Mount Hood - Fatal ice fall below the Pearly Gates during warming winter weather
Mount Hood - Fatal rock fall on the Elliot Headwall during summer conditions
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
Climber on Mt. Rainier dies of hypothermia in brief storm. What happened
Mount Hood - Lessons learned from the latest lost climbers
SPOT Satellite Messenger "PLB" reviewed and recommended
How do you use your map, compass and GPS together, in a nut shell?
Why is the GSM digital cell phone best for backcountry travel and mountaineering?
How do GSM mobile phones assist mountaineering and backcountry rescues?
FREE Clinic on Real Survival Strategies and Staying Found with Map, Compass and GPS together
Two climbers become lost descending Mt. Hood's standard South Side Route
What do you carry in your winter day and summit pack?
Why are "snowcaves" dangerous?
Why are "Space Blankets" dangerous?
Why are "Emergency Kits" dangerous?
How can you avoid Hypothermia?
Final Report to the American Alpine Club on the loss of three climbers on Mount Hood in December 2006
Missing climbers on Mount Hood, one dies of exposure, two believed killed in fall
Missing California family found, dad dies from exposure and hypothermia
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Olympic Champion Rulon Gardner lost on snowmobile!
Lost Olympic hockey player looses feet to cold injury
Expert skier lost five days near resort in North Cascades without map, compass, gps or cell phone
Mount Hood - The Episcopal School Tragedy
Mount Hood - experienced climbers rescued from snow cave
How can you learn the skills of snow camping? Prospectus
Lost and Found
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Longacre Expeditions teen group rescued from the snowdrifts above Todd Lake
Lost climber hikes 6.5 miles from South Sister Trail to Elk Lake
Hiking couple lost three nights in San Jacinto Wilderness find abandoned gear
Expert skier lost five days in North Cascades without Essentials, map and compass
Climber disappears on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin
Hiker lost five days in freezing weather on Mount Hood
Professor and son elude search and rescue volunteers
Found person becomes lost and eludes rescuers for five days
Teens, lost on South Sister, use cell phone with Search and Rescue
Lost man walks 27 miles to the highway from Elk Lake Oregon
Snowboarder Found After Week in Wilderness
Searchers rescue hiker at Smith Rock, find lost climbers on North Sister
Girl Found In Lane County After Lost On Hiking Trip
Search and rescue finds young girls lost from family group
Portland athlete lost on Mt. Hood
Rescues after the recent snows
Novice couple lost in the woods
Broken Top remains confirmed as missing climber
Ollalie Trail - OSU Trip - Lost, No Map, Inadequate Clothing
Your Essential Light Day Pack
What are the new Ten Essential Systems?
What does experience tell us about Light and Fast climbing?
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
What is Light and Fast alpine climbing?
What do you carry in your day pack? Photos?
What do you carry in your winter day pack? Photos?
What should I know about "space blankets"?
Where can I get a personal and a group first aid kit? Photos?
Carboration and Hydration
Is running the Western States 100 part of "traditional mountaineering"?
What's wrong with GORP? Answers to the quiz!
Why do I need to count carbohydrate calories?
What should I know about having a big freeze-dried dinner?
What about carbo-ration and fluid replacement during traditional alpine climbing? 4 pages in pdf
What should I eat before a day of alpine climbing?
About Alpine Mountaineering:
The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
Following the Leader
The Mountaineers' Rope
Basic Responsibilities Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
The Ten Essentials Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales
Our Leader's Guidelines:
Our Volunteer Leader Guidelines
Sign-in Agreements, Waivers and Prospectus This pdf form will need to be signed by you at the trail head
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)
About our World Wide Website:
Map, Compass and GPS
Map, compass and GPS navigation training Noodle in The Badlands
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Searching for the perfect gift
Geocaching: What's the cache?
Geocaching into the Canyon of the Deschutes
Can you catch the geocache?
Z21 covers Geocaching
Tour The Badlands with ONDA
The art of not getting lost
Geocaching: the thrill of the hunt!
GPS in the news
A GPS and other outdoor gadgets make prized gifts
Wanna play? Maps show you the way
Cooking the "navigation noodle"