PMR Member Talks Down Lost Climber By Phone
Sunday, March 24, 2002
Early Sunday morning, veteran Portland Mountain Rescue member Rocky
Henderson successfully guided a lost Mount Hood climber to safety
using nothing more than his knowledge of mountaineering and a phone.
Shortly before 8:00 am on Sunday, PMR received word from the Clackamas
County Sheriff that a climber had become lost in the overcast conditions
high on Mount Hood. The subject had become sick near the 9,500-foot
mark on the mountain's South Side and left his climbing party for
Timberline Lodge. However, he could not find his way down the
mountain in the thick clouds due to technical problems with his guidance
equipment. Using his cellular phone, the climber called 9-1-1 and
was transferred to the Sheriff's Office, who then requested help from PMR.
Henderson was informed that the climber had a Global Positioning
Satellite (GPS) receiver and felt that he might be able to talk the
climber down to safety. He called the subject by phone and
learned that the GPS unit had given a decent bearing prior to
malfunctioning. Using that information, Henderson was able to
give the climber a compass bearing that eventually brought the man
to the top of Palmer Snowfield - the top edge of the Timberline
Lodge Ski Area at 8,540 feet above sea level.
After reaching Palmer, the climber was able to find his own way to
Silcox Hut and, eventually, to Timberline Lodge.
No PMR members actually responded to the mountain, but the unit was
on standby to do so, if necessary. The fact that the climber
had a cell phone and GPS receiver allowed him to be guided to safety
without the need for a full scale search and rescue operation.