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South Sister climber injured, rescued by commercial helicopter

Climber evacuated from South Sister
Injured South Sister climber rescued by helicopter
Nugget News
August 15, 1997

Climber evacuated from South Sister
An Air Life helicopter lifted Wayne Evans of Eugene off the slopes of South Sister on Saturday, August 15, 1997, after he injured his leg while descending the peak.

According to Deschutes County Sheriff's Search & Rescue, Evans' climbing companion, Shannon McGlothin, called by cell phone from the Devil's Lake Trail Head at 9 p.m. on August 14, 1997,
to report that the 51-year-old man had injured himself in a fall.

The fall apparently occurred at 6 p.m.

Although not life threatening, the leg injury was severe enough that Evans was unable to descend the mountain.

After determining that Evans was with another climber at the top of the South Sister and that the two had a tent, sleeping bag and adequate clothing for an overnight stay on the mountain, Sgt. Wayne Inman of Search and Rescue decided to use Air Life for an evacuation at first light the following morning.

A climb team wouldn't have reached the top before daylight anyway.

A ground evacuation would have required several hours and would have been difficult on the loose footing on the mountain, Inman reported.

According to Search and Rescue reports, at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Air Life transported Search and Rescue volunteer Caleb Cordel, who is also a nurse, to the top of the mountain.

After a brief medical examination, Evans was transported to St. Charles for treatment.



What can be learned from this interesting incident?

We have been unable to talk to the injured climber. Federal HIPPA privacy laws prevent medical personnel, including SAR Volunteer Units, from providing contact information for patients. If Wayne Evans will contact us, we will correct any inaccuracies in our analysis. This is not a 'could-a, would-a, should-a exercise', but a traditional effort to help folks learn valuable lessons from the experiences of other climbers.

The "Climbers Trail" up South Sister becomes a "Climbers Way" up and down the last 1,000 feet of elevation gain to above 10,000 feet. The friable volcanic rocks are covered with small gravel of scree, and slips and falls will claim the tired, hasty, uninformed, unwary and careless. When a leg is injured, there is a problem. It can take an agonizing ten hours to hobble down to the trail head and the car. If it is Summer, water and bonking may become a serious problem. If it is Fall or Winter, water, bonking and hypothermia can create a life threatening situation.

It may be vital to call for Rescue. How can you communicate? Get some one to descend to the trail head and drive back to a pay phone? In 1997, few local citizens had cell phones. Cell phones were not Essential to backcountry travel. Shannon McGlothin, called by cell phone from the Devil's Lake Trail Head at 9 p.m. Had he left his cell phone in his car, assuming it would not work in the Wilderness, at 10,000 feet?

Please note the timeline: The injury occurred at 6 p.m., 911 was called at 9 p.m. (not 6:15 p.m.) and the civilian helicopter arrived at 6 a.m. A call at 6:15 p.m. from the summit might have avoided the overnight.

(Note that they carried a tent and a sleeping bag. This is unusual. Did they have a concern about an injury problem with the leg on a 5,000 foot down-slope?)

Times have changed!

Ordinary cell phone coverage has improved, year by year, to the time of this writing in 2012 - see below for "The Rest of the Story". Check your own cell coverage in your favorite backcountry areas. Much of the high desert and the Three Sisters Wilderness is covered by Verizon using CDMA code. The cell phones from other (urban) providers are not able to "see" CDMA towers and will not connect.

Cell communication equipment used by many Providers is located on the top of Mt. Bachelor. If you can see the summit, you should have good cell phone communications. If you are in a hollow or behind a ridge, just move a few feet! However, without contact with other towers, a geographic location can not be triangulated for 911 use and an accurate location can not be fixed.

The one personal cell phone carried by the three men was almost too low on battery power to support talk or text. Although not covered in the SAR report, we assume that this phone was able to ping only the tower array at the top of Mt. Bachelor and no other towers to enable the required triangulation from two or more towers to provide the FCC required geographic Coordinants to find him on a topo map. We believe that a second Verizon tower covers the Green Lakes area. A good cell phone signal with the right Provider can take the Search out of Search and Rescue.

Each person in a group should carry their own simple personal cell phone.

Map, compass and GPS together

Back country travelers should carry a base plate declination adjustable compass costing $25.00 a $7.00 topo map annotated with the UTM Geographic Coordinant Grid and simple current model Garmin GPS costing as little as $100.00.. A stranded person can take the search out of SAR by simply reading the UTM Geographic Coordinants to the Incident Commander over the cell phone. Consider a $100.00  SPOT-2 Satellite Messenger if cell phone towers may not cover the area you plan to explore.

Read below for some basic suggestions about how to Be Prepared in 2012. Basic Responsibilities and the Ten Essential Systems.

Google each one of these three search phrases:    Best Compass for backcountry     Best topo maps for backcountry     Best GPS for backcountry use    Best cell phone for backcountry use

Millions of ordinary people world wide, use a common $100.00 hand held Garmin eTrex GPS with a topomap and color screen, for geocaching, hiking, hunting, cross country skiing, etc. Most GPS receivers have at least 14 hours of continuous life on two new batteries. Two extra AA batteries can be carried in a warm pants pocket to change out batteries weakened by cold. Lithium batteries withstand the cold much better than "regular" AA batteries.


The rest of the story

Deschutes County Sheriffs Search and Rescue Volunteer Coordinator Al Hornish, a 12 year veteran of DCSAR, stated the following in an interview published on January 26, 2012 in the Bend Oregon Source Weekly: "We have grown a lot over the past decade. The nature of missions has changed as well." "There are more Rescues and less Searches, mostly because of the better technology available." Read More. --Robert Speik, January 26, 2012.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010, or nearly four months since my fall off Mount Temple. After so much time, there is much to dwell on. The negatives: the pain of so many fractures, the sleeplessness, the drugs and the messed up things they do to you. It’s easy to get stuck in the negative; yet some part of me is drawn there by some morbid fascination.

How big am I then? Not very. I made a mistake, a pretty small mistake. Or more honestly, I made a series of pretty small mistakes. I almost died for these transgressions. I would have died if it had not been for a cell phone and the chain of events it was able to put into motion. (I’ve owned a cell phone for barely six years.) I might not have died that very day, March 25, 2010, but from where we were, we were a long, long way from the medical care my injuries demanded: a trained trauma surgeon in an Emergency Room. Perhaps I would have lasted one night. Maybe not. It changes my perspective about what a day means. Carpe diem no longer seems some frat-boy cry to party. Today, means everything. --Steve House


Here are some Basic suggestions for all backcountry travelers

1. Practice the Four Basic Responsibilities of the Backcountry Traveler. They work!  Basic Responsibilities

2. Carry the new Ten Essential Systems, sized for the forecast weather and the adventure in a light day pack. This includes a map, compass and GPS and the skills to use them. In the winter, this includes enough extra insulation and waterproof clothing to keep you dry and warm if you become stranded. In snow, you must have a shovel and insulating pad and the skills to make a shelter in the snow to avoid hypothermia and frost bite damage. It works!  Ten Essential Systems

3. Carry your fully charged digital cell phone and periodically check where it can communicate with any cell towers to assist authorities to triangulate your position from cell tower pings. (Most cell providers do not use internal cell phone GPS radio signals to locate customers under FCC E911 regulations - they use triangulation). Cold disables batteries. If the weather is cold, carry the cell phone in a pants pocket near the femoral artery. Report your UTM NAD27 coordinates, your condition, the conditions where you are and discuss your plans with SAR.  Ordinary Cell Phones   If you are adventurous and often may be out of cell tower range, carry a $100.00 SPOT.  SPOT-2 Satellite Messenger

4. Always stay found on your topo map and be aware of major land features. If visibility starts to wane, reconfirm your bearings with your map, compass and GPS and quickly return to a known location. A GPS is the only practical way for a trained individual to navigate in a whiteout or blowing snow.  Lost Mt Hood Climbers


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 to provide protection from a drop in temperature and possible rain or snow storm or an unexpected cold wet night out. Each person should carry high carbohydrate snacks, two quarts of water or Gatorade, a topo map and declination adjusted base plate compass and an optional inexpensive GPS (and the skills to use them together). Each person who has a cell phone should carry their ordinary charged cell phone (from a service provider that has the best local backcountry coverage). An inexpensive SPOT-2 GPS Satellite Communicator is a good additional option for some. Each person should carry their selected items from the new 'Ten Essentials Systems' in a day pack sized for the individual, the trip, 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. Call 911 as soon as you become lost or stranded. You will not be charged. Do not try to find your way until you are benighted, exhausted, or worse yet - wet. Your ordinary cell phone call to 911 can take the 'Search' out of Search and Rescue."



"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 . . .
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Lost hiker rescued near Horse Lake by SAR
Lost Mt. Bachelor skier rescued at Nordic shelter
FCC requirements for providing mobile phone geographic locations
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Mt. Rainier snowshoe leader falls, rescued after two days
Climber dies in forecast storm on Mt. Rainier
The Episcopal School Tragedy
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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
Lost hiker rescued near Horse Lake by SAR
How can I prevent, recognize and treat Hypothermia?
Op-Ed: Prepare for the worst before setting out in the winter
Prineville hunter lost 4 winter days and 3 nights in the Ochoco National Forest
Several hikers lost near Sisters, rescued by SAR
Snowshoer, "lost" near Wanoga snowpark, rescued by SAR
"Be Prepared" to be stranded on winter forest roads in Oregon
Several drivers become stranded on Oregon winter forest roads, led their new GPS' "fastest way" setting
Gear grist, an article written for The Mountaineer, the monthly newsletter of The Mountaineers
Robert Speik writes: "Use your digital cell in the backcountry" for The Mountaineer
Teen girls become lost overnight returning from hike to Moraine Lake
Snowboarder lost overnight near Mount Bachelor, rescued by SAR 
Woman leaves car stuck in snow near Klamath Falls, dies from exposure
Man rescued from crevasse just off South Sister climber's trail
Climbing South Sister: A Prospectus and a Labor Day near disaster
Trail runner survives fall on ice with cell phone call
Once again, hypothermia kills stranded Oregon driver
Lessons learned from the latest lost Mt. Hood climbers
Lessons learned from the latest lost Christmas tree hunters
New rescue services for all American Alpine Club Members
OpEd: Oregon requires electronic communications in the backcountry
Rescue charges in traditional alpine mountaineering
Governor establishes a Search and Rescue Task Force
Oregon Search and Rescue Statutes
Lost hiker in Oregon backcountry found with heat-sensing device in airplane
HB2509 mandates electronic locator beacons on Mt. Hood - climbers' views
Oregon HB 2509
Three hikers and a dog rescued on Mt. Hood
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Snow stranded Utah couple leave car and die from hypothermia
Death on Mt. Hood - What happened to the three North Face climbers? 
Two climbers become lost descending Mt. Hood
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
Lost snowmobile riders found, one deceased from hypothermia
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
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Snowboarder Found After Week in Wilderness
Searchers rescue hiker at Smith Rock, find lost climbers on North Sister
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Portland athlete lost on Mt. Hood
Rescues after the recent snows
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Search called off for missing climber Corwin Osborn
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
  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

  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"