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.