Crater Rock Medical Evacuation

On June 1, 2014, three friends summited Mt. Hood in favorable conditions. On the descent, one of the of climbers, a 36 year-old woman, was overcome with severe abdominal pains. As they descended to the east side of Crater Rock, the pain was too severe for her to move further. Her companions called 911 for emergency assistance. At approximately 11:00 a.m., the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office requested Portland Mountain Rescue to mobilize and evacuate the climber. The CCSO also requested AMR to send its reach and treat team to provide emergency medical care.

Two AMR medics departed Timberline Lodge at approximately 1:30 p.m. The first PMR team of six rescuers left Timberline 15 minutes later with equipment for the evacuation. A second PMR team of 3 rescuers left Timberline Lodge around 2:30 p.m. AMR reached the patient first around 3:45 p.m. and administered emergency care to stabilize her. PMR had the patient packaged and ready to move around 4:30 p.m.

Using a rope belay from snow anchors, PMR rescuers lowered the patient approximately 750 vertical feet. From there, they were able to guide the litter without the need for a rope belay. Due to excellent conditions, PMR delivered the patient to a snow cat at the top of the Palmer lift in only 30 minutes. The snow cat carried the patient to Timberline Lodge where she was loaded into an ambulance for transport to a Portland hospital around 5:45 p.m. She was released from the hospital later that day and has made a full recovery.

This mission is a great reminder that medical emergencies can happen at any time and any place. PMR urges backcountry travelers to always be prepared with food and shelter to survive for at least 24 hours. In this case, the patient was evacuated quickly in less than seven hours. Typically, evacuations from the crater area of Mt. Hood take more than eight hours from the time help is requested. Evacuations from more remote areas or in poor conditions can take much longer.