Injured climber had no ice axe or registery

Injured climber had no ice axe or registery

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by Teresa Blackman, kgw.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 22 at 1:34 PM

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. -- A climber who fell on Mount Hood Thursday had some prior climbing experience but failed to bring along an ice axe -- a key piece of equipment in his quest to reach the summit, according to the Clackamas County sheriff's office.

Gary Morgan, 52, of Clarkston, Michigan, fell just before 9:30 a.m., near the Hogsback, an area close to the summit along a route favored by most climbers.

Morgan hurt his arm and hip during the fall. He also had a number of cuts over his body. He was safely carried to the top of the Palmer lift, then transferred to a Snocat that took him to Timberline Lodge.

Sgt. Adam Phillips outlined what climbing equipment Morgan was using -- a daypack, leather hiking boots, crampons, a hiking pole and a bicycle helmet.

There was no evidence that Morgan registered for the climb, Phillips said. The step includes leaving pertinent information about departure time, expected return time, route and contact information.

He did not have an ice axe, and was never able to stop his fall with a procedure called a self-arrest, Phillips said. The standard list of climbing equipment for Hood includes an ice axe, he said.

Morgan fell for an unknown reason, Phillips said. He slide about 500 to 600 feet, fast enough to fly over a crevasse near the end of his slip.

Rescuers with Portland Mountain Rescue were also climbing nearby and reached Morgan quickly to provide support. They said he was conscious and talking.

The PMR climbers themselves were on the mountain to help spread the ashes of a climber who died in the same area just one week earlier after a 1,000-foot fall.

More: Climber Mark Cartier dies in fall on Mt. Hood

Mike Claypool saw Morgan fall Thursday. He was descending Mt. Hood after he decided it was too soft to safely summit.

"All of a sudden, we hear, 'falling!' and we see the body coming down and everybody's yelling 'arrest, arrest,'" Claypool recalled. "I'm still shaking, kinda. I've never seen anything like that."

"He was breathing, so that was a good sign and the guys on the ridge were calling 911 already," added fellow climber Russ Backs.

Conditions were sunny and clear on the mountain Thursday, but experts said that's not always a good thing.

"As the weather warms on the mountain, the snow changes texture," Phillips said. "You just have to be really prepared for the surface changes."

In the fatal accident just a week earlier, experienced climber Mark Cartier, 56, was descending the mountain when he lost his footing and fell.

Cartier's son was among the climbers who had gone up the mountain this Thursday, to spread Mark's ashes in his honor.

Mark's wife, had said that Mt. Hood was his favorite mountain and described it as "his special playground."

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