Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on June 21, 2012, a solo climber fell from the West Crater Route on Mt. Hood. A PMR rescuer and professional guide, who was guiding clients at the time, witnessed the fall. He observed the climber traversing from the 2 o’clock chute to the old chute. The climber slipped and was unable to self arrest; he was not carrying an ice ax. He slid down the face of the crater to the depression between Hot Rocks and the Hogs Back. A small crevasse has formed just above the depression. The falling climber flew across this crevasse and landed hard in the depression.
A Mazama party, that was descending at the time of the accident, reached the patient first. Two other PMR rescuers also were on the mountain for a private climb; they reached the climber right away and took charge. They performed a patient assessment and determined to move the patient out of the worst of the rock and ice fall. With help from the other climbers, they placed the patient on a tarp and dragged him to a somewhat safer location.
One of the Mazama climbers contacted 911 and one or the PMR rescuers contacted PMR around 9:30 a.m. A large group of the AMR Reach and Treat (RAT) team were on the mountain at the top of the Palmer lift and starting a training session when the call came from Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. A portion of the RAT team formed Team 1 and began ascending to the patient. The rest of the RAT team descended to gather supplies and to plan the response.
Team 1 RAT members reached the patient around 12:30 p.m. They confirmed the initial medical assessment and determined the patient would require a careful evacuation. They stabilized the patient for transport.
Around 11:30 a.m., the Team 2 of PMR rescuers left Timberline Lodge with equipment for the evacuation. With the help of the RAT team, PMR packaged the patient in the vacuum splint and litter. The teams raised the litter to the Hogs Back using a rope system and lowered him around the east side of Crater Rock. PMR Team 3 was there to help with the litter and anchors.
The patient was delivered to a snow cat waiting at the top of the Palmer lift around 3:00 p.m. PMR helped load the patient into an ambulance at Timberline Lodge. All teams were safely out of the field around 4:00 p.m.
PMR encourages climbers to respect the technical difficulty and risks of climbing Mt. Hood. On all Mt. Hood routes climbers should carry an ice ax, crampons and helmet and be proficient in their use. A full list of necessary equipment can be found on our website. PMR encourages all back country users to travel with one or two buddies for safety.