MOUNT HOOD VILLAGE, Ore. — A Happy Valley man was seriously injured after falling close to 700 feet near the summit of Mount Hood, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) said in a news release.
Around 6:30 a.m. Saturday, first responders learned that the 43-year-old climber fell from the summit ridge near the Old Chute area on Mount Hood. Witnesses said he lost his ice axe and fell to the rocks above the Hot Rocks fumarole.
The sheriff's office deployed a search-and-rescue team to find the injured climber and bring him to safety. A volunteer search team from mountaineering groups Portland Mountain Rescue and Hood River Crag Rats also joined the rescue mission, and authorities set up a command center at Timberline Lodge.
Rescue crews reached the injured climber just before 10:30 a.m. and administered first aid. An Oregon Army National Guard helicopter arrived on scene around 1 p.m. to hoist the climber to safety.
He was flown to a Portland-area hospital to be treated for his injuries.
The sheriff's office warned that Mount Hood is dangerous to climb year-round because of steep, icy conditions. It added that this was the second accident within the same area in just over a week.
"There’s always risk involved in climbing Mount Hood. It's a technical mountain,” said Erik Broms, a rescue leader with Portland Mountain Rescue. Broms has been with PMR for 20 years, so he knows the landscape. He noted it’s been a busy year for search and rescue.
“It's always important to know the route, know the conditions and have a have a backup plan,” he said.
Broms led the rescue of the injured 43-year-old climber on Saturday. The location of the accident wasn’t a surprise to him.
“A slide in one of those spots usually results in some serious injuries because once you slide — unless you self-arrest within just a fraction of a second — you're probably going to go for a ride and that's another thing that you want to really know. How to self-arrest, and good footwork is really important,” he said.
Despite the accident, Broms is thankful for a best-case scenario.
“We were able to get him off the mountain to the hospital. He did not go into the fumarole, because that would have added another layer of complexity to the mission and the outcome may not have been as good.”
This was the second time a climber was rescued on Mount Hood in a little over a week.
On June 24, a 31-year-old Portland woman was climbing Mount Hood when she fell several hundred from the summit ridge down the Old Chute. She was critically injured and transported to a hospital by helicopter.