Mount Hood Re-Opens 8 Days After Tragedy
Friday, June 7, 2002
Eight days after a series of accidents closed the upper portion of Mount Hood,
the mountain has re-opened to climbers. This announcement came one day after
the wreckage of the downed Pave Hawk helicopter was lifted off the mountain.
· Read more --> Headline from May 30
Early morning on May 30, a chain reaction fall swept nine climbers into the
Bergschrund crevasse at the 10,800-foot mark on the mountain. Three of
the victims were killed from the fall and six others escaped with their lives,
though three of them were critically injured. Nearby climbers, including
some from a suburban Portland fire department, pulled out the surviving
climbers and waited for rescuers to reach the scene.
A five member paramedic team from American Medical Response, a Timberline Pro
Ski Patroller and 17 members of Portland Mountain Rescue joined the rescue
operation early in the afternoon. About 30 minutes after the first
critically injured victim was flown off the mountain in a helicopter, an Air
Force Reserve Pave Hawk helicopter crashed during an attempt to evacuate a
second climber. Six crew members were injured - one seriously - further
complicating an already large rescue effort.
The chopper came to rest in the mountain crater on Mount Hood's South side,
around 10,300 feet above sea level, creating an investigation scene. This
prompted the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to close the entire mountain above
9,000 feet for just over a week.
A massive Army National Guard Chinook helicopter lifted the damaged Pave Hawk
off the mountain early in the morning on Thursday, June 6. USFS rangers
inspected the accident site the following morning and determined it safe for
climbing. The announcement came just after noon on Friday, June 7.
With an unseasonably cold weather front moving in for the weekend, climbers
are urged to carefully evaluate the conditions before attempting a climb of
Mount Hood. Predicted snow levels are around 4,000 feet and forecasts
call for gusty winds. Similar conditions on Washington's Mount Rainier
have contributed to five deaths and four injuries there over the past nine
days. Weather seemingly was not a factor in the Mount Hood tragedy, as
climbing conditions were nearly ideal at the time of the accident.