Reid Headwall Mission Status Update
December 14, 2009 (Morning)
PMR is currently participating in a search for two overdue climbers on Mt. Hood. Following is a status update on those efforts so far:
At 1:00 a.m. Saturday, December 12, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office asked PMR to help with a search for Luke Gullberg (26), Anthony Vietti (24), and Katie Nolan (29), who had failed to return from an early Friday climb. PMR teams began assembling at Timberline Lodge at 4:30 a.m. Based on information provided by the climbers on a permit registration card, several PMR teams were deployed: two to traverse Illumination Saddle to search near the Sandy Glacier, Reid Headwall and Leuthold's Colouir; others to transport gear and erect a staging area at the top of the Palmer Glacier; and one to attempt to reach the summit via the primary South Side climbing route. Conditions in the field were unpleasant with temperatures in the 20s, high humidity, snow, poor visibility, moderate winds and serious riming.
Shortly after crossing Illumination Saddle, the first team discovered three sets of tracks. Following those led them to discover the body of one of the overdue climber, Luke Gullberg, who appears to have fallen from higher on the Reid Headwall. The PMR teams' efforts to search higher on the mountain Saturday were frustrated by unstable, avalanche-prone snow conditions. However, PMR and two members of the AMR RAT team were able to retrieve Mr. Gullberg's remains.
On Sunday, December 13, snow conditions did not permit extensive ground-based searching on the upper mountain. However, four PMR members assisted with air-based searches conducted by a Civil Air Patrol fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter from the Oregon Army National Guard 1042nd Medical Unit based in Salem, while a team from Pacific Northwest Search & Rescue searched below treeline.
On Monday, December 14, PMR hopes to be able to insert two small teams to assess weather and avalanche conditions and attempt to climb the South Side route, which the missing climbers had indicated was their planned route of descent. We will update this site as events warrant.