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1 Climber Dead, 1 Injured on Mt Hood's Sandy Glacier
Thursday, November 4, 2004
An early season climbing accident took the life of one mountaineer and
seriously injured another during a climb of the Sandy Headwall on Mount Hood's
It is not yet known exactly how the accident occurred, but the two men fell 300
to 500 feet from the Sandy Headwall route and slid at high speed into a 40-foot
deep crevasse on the Sandy Glacier, near 8,500 feet in elevation.
The least injured climber was able to place a cell phone call to 9-1-1 around
11:30 AM. Subsequently, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office launched a
rescue mission and summoned Portland Mountain Rescue and American Medical
Response (AMR) shortly after noon.
Mission Reference Map
West Face of Mount Hood
Initially, little was known about the climbers' location, but Steve Rollins, a
PMR rescue leader, was able to make direct phone contact with the climbers and
learned that they were near the Sandy Headwall - a very remote area of Mount
Hood (see map above). Rollins quickly passed this information to the
Sheriff's Office and advised the mobilization of air support to reach the
victims in the fastest possible time.
The first rescuers to reach the mountain were a PMR volunteer and professionals
from the AMR Reach and Treat (RAT) Team. RAT Team paramedic Dave Mull and
PMR rescuer Matt Cline received a sno-cat ride to Illumination Saddle and
proceeded to cross the Reid Glacier and Yocum Ridge on foot in order to reach
the scene. This process took nearly five hours.
While the two-man team was traversing the mountain's West Face, a UH-60
Blackhawk helicopter from the Oregon Army National Guard 1042nd Air Ambulance
Unit ferried PMR rescuers Bob Brownback and Marty Johnson from Timberline Lodge
to the Sandy Glacier. The least injured climber crawled out of the
crevasse and successfully directed the helicopter to the remote location.
As Portland area residents watched a live television feed from a
Newschannel 8 helicopter, the PMR team and one National Guard medic
were lowered into the crevasse.
After discovering the other climber had no pulse, the rescuers performed CPR
until it was obvious that the patient could not be revived. The cause of
death is not yet known.
During this time, the Blackhawk returned with two AMR RAT Team paramedics and
the team's attention turned to the surviving climber. He was suffering
from multiple broken bones and other possible injuries, so the rescuers
packaged the man in a litter for transport to Portland. The helicopter
delivered the patient to Emanuel Hospital around 6:20 PM. He is expected
to completely recover from his injuries.
The body of the deceased climber, as well as the rescue teams, were air lifted
to Mount Hood's Timberline Lodge around 9:00 PM, bringing the more than 9-hour
rescue mission to a close.
The 11,239-foot mountain recently received large accumulations of snow, but the
conditions at the time of the accident were relatively good for early
November. Both climbers were experienced.
Even though the victims were able to summon help using a cell phone, they
failed to register at the Timberline Lodge climbing register prior to their
climb. Had rescuers been unable to contact the man on his phone, it would
have been next to impossible to determine the location of the accident.
PMR encourages all climbers and hikers to complete the free registration prior
to entering the Mount Hood Wilderness. Registration can help save a life
should an accident occur.