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Portland Mtn Rescue
P.O. Box 5391
Portland, Oregon

503-222-PMRU (7678)


Mt. Hood Search For 3 Climbers - Update
Sunday, December 17, 2006  

Mt. Hood
Current conditions on the North Face of Mt. Hood.
Cooper Spur is the broad slope on the left.
The North Face gullies go up the middle.
© Iain Morris (Portland Mountain Rescue)

PMR had 26 searchers on the mountain today and helped directly with a sad discovery. PMR's major presence was on the South side today. Just after first light, 18 searchers divided into 5 teams were transported by snocat to the top of the Palmer lift. A Hasty Team of 2 PMR climbers headed out at a quick pace on an exploratory climb to assess the stability and safety of the route. Behind them were 3 support teams. 2 of these were assigned to install fixed ropes on the upper portion of the Hogsback, through the Pearly Gates and on toward the milder slopes approaching the summit. The third support team was assigned to remain on the Hogsback as a "lifeguard" team to cover all of the PMR teams above it. The fifth team was staged at the lift station at the top of the Palmer lift with additional gear, to be moved up the mountain if needed. This team included two AMR paramedics.

Mt. Hood
The area where the cave and tracks were found
© Iain Morris (Portland Mountain Rescue)

The summit team held just below the summit as the Chinook helicopter from Hood River deposited 12 searchers onto the summit via hoist. The Chinook did not leave Hood River until our summit team pronounced the route as safe for a descent from the summit, so that the Chinook team would have a descent route in case the helicopter was unable to return to retrieve them. Our 2-man summit team reached the summit a couple of minutes after the Chinook left the summit and participated in the summit activities including helping to find the missing climber.

Chinook Helicopter
Performing hoist operations on Mt. Hood's summit
© Iain Morris (Portland Mountain Rescue)

On the North side, 2 PMR members traveled to Hood River early this morning to join a group of Crag Rats and 304th PJs in a Chinook helicopter on an observation flight to look at the clues mentioned in the Saturday report. The Chinook returned to Hood River and all of the observers met to develop a plan to reach the clues and potential snow cave locations. The 2 PMR members joined 2 Crag Rats and 8 PJs on the Chinook for a return flight to the mountain. After being lowered by winch to the summit, they set up anchors and used several 600' ropes to lower down to investigate the clue area. Several items were discovered at the first clue area, but no climbers were found. The 2 person PMR team climbed down the slopes heading to the Wyeast route to look for tracks. Tracks were found heading down above an area known as The Black Spider, then cutting hard west in an apparent attempt to regain Cooper Spur. The snow cave containing one of the three climbers was located near these tracks.

Leaving Hood
The area of search has been isolated to the Cooper Spur/N. Face/Newton Clark area
© Iain Morris (Portland Mountain Rescue)

Also on the North side, the 2 PMR members who participated in the search on Saturday had spent the night at Cloud Cap and resumed searching the North side on Sunday, targeting the upper end of the Eliot glacier. They searched where they were able to travel but were prevented by high avalanche hazard from reaching their target at the very upper end of the Eliot. The Clackamas County Sheriff's office has determined that there is no need for further searching on the South side of Mt. Hood pending further developments, and no PMR resources have been requested for tomorrow by the Hood River County Sheriff's office, so there will be no search activities by PMR on Monday, December 18.

At the request of the CCSO, there will be a Ready Team at Timberline on Monday to serve as a resource in the event that any problems with the HRCSO's summit activities on Monday require help from the South side.

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2001- Portland Mountain Rescue
P.O. Box 5391
Portland, Oregon  97228-5391
Phone: 503.222.PMRU (7678)

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