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Mt Hood rescue/tragedy

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Postby T Sharp » Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:16 am

I agree with Buckaroo on many equipment points, and will leave the accident conjecture to you all, ...I will however weight in on the conditions, particularly the upper reaches of Mt. Hood in winter. The mountain is a giant choss pile that is held together by rhyme ice, this is particularly the case in winter, and as such the absolute best climbing conditions will be found in the winter/early spring, when the rhyme is feet thick and the consistency of stryo-foam. Rock fall is a distant hazard, that can make many routes out of shape in the summer, and fall.

On the Reid Glacier Headwall there are several runnels that can be climbed on the lower pitches above the bergschrund, and in winter they are predominately steep snow, with short pitches of ice, and rock through tight constrictions that must be negotiated. On the upper pitches, there are some larger ice bulges, but they tend to be on less steep terrain, and are more easily tackled. That side {W} of the mountain will offer some warning to impending weather, and it is not impossible to down climb, though many of the sections require a face in descent, due to the steepness of the slope, with a two handed plunge of the axe, and a descend kick-kick- repeat technique. Some teams will opt to boot axe belay some pitches during retreat, I have had to do this on that route a few times, for various reasons.

I do not think that winter attempts on Mt. Hood are unreasonable, or fool hardy, teams have to be prepared to self rescue and carry survival gear sufficient to spend several days in a snow cave. Climbers also have to be adept at manipulating gear and systems in nasty conditions. So to the equipment list I would add lots of wands to mark the approach to the Illumination saddle, and then down onto the Rieid Glacier. I would also add transceivers, with each climber knowing how to use them. It can snow wicked amounts on Mt. Hood, and spenddrift avalanches will begin with only about 8" of accumulation. The avy conditions will stabilize fairly quickly after a storm, so if you get pinned down, give the mountain 12-24 hours to stabilize before trying to retreat or continue on the route. Pickets, long and short screws and flukes, and plenty of runners, for sumul-climbing/ belay/retreat anchors, and a comprehensive first aid kit are necessary also.

Do not climb into the teeth of a forecasted storm as Mt. Hood will get hit by any weather that is in the region, but with that said, if unexpected weather pins you down, dig a cave, conserve energy and food, and wait it out, it will improve in a few days at most. I do not think a "light and fast" equipment rack is sufficient for Cascade Volcano winter attempts. If the shit hits the fan, you will be hard pressed to survive even with a full on winter mountaineering kit.

Winter attempts on Mt. Hood are great experience for climbers who aspire to higher goals, [like Denali] and can be very rich and rewarding. The onus is on the team to make smart decisions, and work together. Do not count on rescue, even if you have a mountain location beacon, [aka cadaver location devices], as it is your responsibility to get your own damn team off the mountain. Know this as a team before making your attempt. Tell others about your plan and stick to it...don`t sign out for the Reid Glacier, and then morph the climb into the West Ridge, if you get disoriented in a white out, hunker down, and wait for the fog to lift, if the chosen route is out of the question, retreat and live to climb it another day.

Live Smart, Climb Safe
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Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:53 am

The Chief wrote:SLR

Thanks and concur 100%!


PS: I know you most likely understand where I am coming from my background as a retired ABHC(NAC/NPJ).


Yes, I understand where you're coming from. I personally instigated numerous aircraft accident investigations because of my student pilots (hit the wing on deck during landing, crashed into another jet on deck during taxi, ground off 1 foot of the tail dragging it down the runway, ripped off a refueling basket in flight, etc......)
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Postby Bryan W » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:20 pm

Any new news that hasn't been reported here?
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Postby lasvegaswraith » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:43 pm

Last article I saw an update on was 12/22 with no new news unfortunately.
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Postby oldsnowy » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:02 am

And in conclusion.............know all that you can about the route, know all that you can about conditions, be fully prepared for changes and surprises, and have a Plan B.
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Postby Bryan W » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:14 pm

ScottyP wrote:Wrong, the man in the cave was Terry James. His wife wrote a book about the experience and has made the circuit of all the talk shows as well.

http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Fast-Unto ... 1595551751


BTW, I guess that makes two of us. Since you were so rude, WRONG, his name was Kelly Jeffery James, but then you read the book didn't you?

Thanks for the tip on the book, it was a good read.
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Postby ScottyP » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:06 am

Wow! I went back to make sure I did not put "wrong" in all caps, I did not. I apologize, was not trying to be rude. Typo on the Terry vs Kelly Kames.
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Postby billisfree » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:17 am

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Postby T Sharp » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:29 am

An excerpt from the report;

""If your mother has Alzheimer's disease and she wanders away from home, or your brother gets lost while he's out hunting, or your child is missing, you will want me to deploy every resource available to find them — and I will. It doesn't matter whether or not anybody ever sees it on television or reads about it in the newspapers, we do it because we care.""

Craig Roberts
Clackamas County Sheriff

My hat is off to Sheriff Roberts, and all of the SAR members who participate.
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Postby Alpinist » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:07 am

T Sharp wrote:An excerpt from the report;

""If your mother has Alzheimer's disease and she wanders away from home, or your brother gets lost while he's out hunting, or your child is missing, you will want me to deploy every resource available to find them — and I will. It doesn't matter whether or not anybody ever sees it on television or reads about it in the newspapers, we do it because we care.""

Craig Roberts
Clackamas County Sheriff

My hat is off to Sheriff Roberts, and all of the SAR members who participate.

+1 Mine as well.
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SAR on Hood

Postby Norman » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:59 pm

Hey, thanks for the follow up post from the Newspaper. It does make you wonder what happened. Nice to read there are humanitarian people out there helping because they want to like the Sheriff and volunteers.
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Postby Alpinist » Wed May 19, 2010 5:42 pm

I haven't see anything in the news since January about the 2 missing climbers. Now that winter is over, does anyone know if they are planning to search for the bodies of Katie Nolan and Anthony Vietti...?
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Postby Brian Jenkins » Wed May 19, 2010 8:07 pm

Winter may be over where you are, but..............................as of two wks ago snow depth at Timberline (6000 ft) is 104% of normal at 13.25 feet and we've got a storm coming this weekend where snow levels are going down again to 3100 feet. I have not heard anything lately about any continued search efforts but my guess would be nothing much would happen for a while. I think the west side will be open into June this year but I haven't been over there lately to check out the schrund and any snow bridges.

I'm not sure how efforts to search on the west side go. I don't think too many people go over there from about June until winter snows come due to ice and rock fall as well as the open schrund on the Reid which is when they might be exposed (nobody knows though, they might be in a snow cave still or somewhere else down the mountain). I would guess eventually, climbers on the Reid Headwall or Leuthold might find them depending on where they ended up but that's just a guess.
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Postby OJ Loenneker » Thu May 20, 2010 4:53 am

This kind of reminds me how PMR and Crag Rats went up the Elliott to look for those guys from NY that got lost a few years back. They checked all the crevasses, and open schrunds. Nothing was ever found. They did find a gear cache in the Till Jane Cabin that belonged to the missing climbers (mainly bivy gear). So there may be a distinct possibility that these recent missong climbers may also never be found. There have been quite a few people that have climbed that route this year, and no one has reported finding anything.
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Postby Alpinist » Thu May 20, 2010 7:13 pm

My question was more in terms of standard procedure. Will they conduct another search operation when conditions allow, or is that the end of it...?
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