For the third time in five days, emergency teams have been summoned to Mount Hood to rescue a climber in distress.
The latest call for help came on the evening of January 26, after a man attempting to descend Hogsback Snow Ridge after climbing to the top of the mountain lost control and plunged several hundred feet into a volcanic vent.
The climber, identified as George Stevens, 28, from Idaho, landed at the bottom of the cavity, also known as the fumarole, which is emitting hot, toxic gases. Stevens survived, but suffered serious injuries.
Two friends who made the climb with Stevens managed to call 911. The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office led the response and deployed more than 20 people from the Hood River Crag Rats and Portland Mountain Rescue.
One of these volunteers, fitted with a respirator and gas level monitors, was taken down to Stevens around midnight. The team stabilized the man and hoisted him to the surface, where they loaded him into a litter. Stevens was then roped down steep ice slopes to the top of the Palmer Ski Lift, loaded onto a Sno-Cat and driven to a waiting ambulance in the Timberline Lodge parking lot.
Prior to this incident, the sheriff’s office received a call last weekend from a man from Eugene who became stranded on top of Hood because his equipment broke down. This individual was climbing alone. Luckily, two members of the Crag Rats, the nation’s oldest search and rescue organization, were already near the top of the mountain on their own climbing expedition. They also used ropes to pull him down, although the descent was easier since the man was unhurt.
Volunteers and the sheriff’s office say they’ve noticed a commonality among many recent rescues: People are unprepared for the conditions. Over the past week, crews have observed too many people heading without proper equipment. often start their hike too late in the day too.
Although it is one of the most climbed peaks in the world, outdoor enthusiasts should keep in mind that Hood is a technical climb. Anyone attempting to summit should have gear like crampons and an ice axe. Navigation and mountaineering skills are also required.
Interested beginners are encouraged to hire a guide or train with an established rock climbing club. And always start the ride early in the morning to avoid getting into trouble after dark.