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.