Climber falls, others stranded on Mt. Hood; rescue underway

PORTLAND, Ore. — A rescue helicopter reached a group of climbers on Mount Hood Tuesday afternoon, hours after one man fell 700-1,000 feet and was critically injured.

As many as 15 more climbers are stranded on the mountain in deteriorating conditions caused by warm weather, officials said.

The climber fell in the Hogsback area around 10:30 a.m., according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. That’s at an elevation of approximately 10,500 feet.

A Black Hawk helicopter crew arrived from Salem and reached the group around 1 p.m. A paramedic was lowered to the mountain, and loaded the injured climber into a secure stretcher. The climber was lifted into the helicopter at 1:35 p.m. and flown to a Portland hospital. The man is in critical condition. His name has not been released.

Another group of four climbers is also stranded nearby, with one person injured. Rescuers told the group to stay put, due to warm weather and deteriorating conditions on the mountain. Crews are working to reach that party. The person’s injuries are not life-threatening, according to Clackamas County Sgt. Brian Jensen.

The sheriff’s office said officials received another report of a group of 3-4 climbers who may be making their way down to the Hogsback area. Their whereabouts and conditions are unknown.

Approximately 40 rescue volunteers are at the scene. Crews from Portland Mountain Rescue, Mountain Wave Search and Rescue and the Air Force Rescue Squad are on the mountain. Another helicopter crew from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island also responded to search for additional climbers.

Rough weather is expected on the mountain early Wednesday morning, at around 1 a.m.

Office of Emergency Management officials confirmed that the climber who fell was on the way up to the summit, without using ropes, and fell 700-1,000 feet. Three other members of that party performed CPR until the helicopter arrived.

Scott Lucas of OEM told KGW as many as 32 climbers may be stranded on the mountain due to deteriorating conditions. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said that was not correct. Jensen estimated the number of climbers between 8-15.

Steve Rollins of Portland Mountain Rescue says Hogsback is the most popular climbing route on the mountain.

“Hogsback is a steep spine that goes from the crater of the volcano up toward the summit, approximately 800 feet in length,” Rollins said.

Rollins said a fallen climber is not an uncommon occurrence this time of year.

The Hogsback area of Mount Hood.

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