Monday, February 19, 2007

Mount Hood climbers are found, all alive

The three climbers who had fallen on Oregon's Mount Hood were found alive Monday morning. Here's the AP story:
GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. (AP) — Rescuers who camped out on MountHood set out at daybreak Monday to try to reach three climbers who fell from a snowy ledge and were huddled in sleeping bags and cuddled with a dog amid ferocious winds and blowing snow. “They are on the move,” Russell Gubele, coordinating communications for the rescue operation, said of the rescuers. Other rescue teams from the ground were also on the way to the site, which is believed to be around the 8,300-foot level on the11,239-foot mountain. The rescuers, about 30 in all, were hoping to beat a snowstorm expected later in the day. The three climbers, two women and a man, fell on Sunday. They are believed to be good shape. Rescuers were moving into the White River Canyon, where the climbers had taken shelter behind rocks during the night. They were moving cautiously because of a “very severe avalanche danger,”Gubele said. Rescuers planned to “blanket that canyon” in search of the three climbers, he said. Teams had reached the general area earlier Monday, but they decided to wait until daybreak because they couldn’t see anything ,Gubele said, and “it’s extremely treacherous up where they are. One false step could be not good.” Battling winds up to 70 mph and blowing snow, rescue teams had worked through the night trying to locate the climbers. The three who fell were part of an eight-person party that set out on Saturday, camped on the mountain that night, and then began to come back down on Sunday when they ran into bad weather,officials said. As they were descending, the three slipped off a ledge. Someone in the party placed an emergency call to authorities. The sheriff said the group was thought to be well equipped and have GPS capabilities, cell phones, mountain locator units and adequate climbing essentials. Rescue officials were in frequent cell phone contact with the three who had fallen. The three had gotten into their sleeping bags to stay warm. “They also have a Labrador dog with them that is cuddled up with them to help them keep warm,” Gubele told AP Broadcast News. “My understanding is that they are experienced rock climbers, but not necessarily experienced in mountain climbing.” Still, officials were worried. “There’s always danger of exposure on Mount Hood,” Gubele said. At least one of the three had a mountain locator unit, which emits signals used to find missing or stranded climbers. Rescuers were using the signals to try to locate their precise position. “They’re wet, shivering and cold,” said Jim Strovink, a spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office. “Hopefully we’ll be able to home right in on their exact location.” Sgt. Sean Collinson, a spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office, said the two women appeared to have suffered some bumps and bruises and their male companion is in good condition. He said all three “were in fairly good spirits when we talked to them on the phone.” The drama began shortly before noon Sunday, when someone in an eight-person climbing party called emergency dispatchers to say three of the climbers had fallen about 100 feet off a cliff. Battling snow and high winds, a team of rescue mountaineers scrambled up the mountain to search. The other members of the party were told to dig a snow cave and wait for help. Authorities said the climbers’ electronic locator device helped rescuers find them. One of the devices was activated after the fall, authorities said. The five rescued climbers were taken to Timberline Lodge, a ski resort at the 6,000-foot level of Mount Hood, and all are reported in good condition, the sheriff’s office said in an e-mail. At a news conference at the lodge, one of the rescued climbers, Trevor Liston of Portland said he was optimistic for companions still on the mountain: “So far, they’re doing pretty good up there from what we’ve heard.” Liston said he saw the three fall but didn’t say how it happened. The names of the other climbers have not been released. The mountain can be treacherous, particularly in the winter. In December, search teams scoured Mount Hood for days in the hopes offinding a group of missing climbers alive. The bodies of Brian Hallof Dallas and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke of New York have not been found. Another climber in their group, Kelly James of Dallas died of hypothermia. In the past 25 years, more than 35 climbers have died on the11,239-foot mountain, one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Man's best friend, eh? No snow boots on the dog and apparently no effort made for its protection from the cold at night. I remember snapping a black lab into my down jacket at night in the Sierras during a backpack trip - she was so grateful she never moved!