GOVERNMENT CAMP — Rescuers reached more than a half-dozen climbers stranded by tumbling rocks and falling ice on Oregon’s tallest peak before expected heavy snow makes conditions even more treacherous. One climber fell to his death earlier Tuesday.
At least seven climbers were stranded high on the peak and one of them was hurt, said Sgt. Brian Jensen, a Clackamas County sheriff’s office spokesman.
Rescuers made it up to the climbers at about 4:40 p.m. Tuesday at 10,500-foot elevation and assessed them before starting down the mountain. Rescuers were assisting four climbers while three other climbers were making their way down the mountain without assistance, according to the sheriff’s office.
Mount Hood, notorious for loose ice and rocks in warm weather, is a popular climbing site that has seen dozens of accidents and fatalities over the years.
The climber who died fell about 1,000 feet, and KOIN-TV reported that video taken from a helicopter showed other climbers performing CPR on the man before he was airlifted by an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter to a hospital. He was later declared dead. Authorities have not released his identity.
The sun has been out this week, and the temperature was around freezing at the spot where the climber fell, said Russell Gubele of Mountain Wave Search and Rescue.
“This is the kind of weather conditions and the time of year where you often get falling ice, falling rocks and problems,” Gubele said.
Climbers used their cellphones to report that conditions were hazardous and described the falling rocks and ice “like a bowling alley,” said Air Force Maj. Chris Bernard of the 304th Rescue Squadron.
The stuck climbers were on or near the Hogsback area near the summit of the 11,240-foot mountain.
Jensen said the climbers had food and water to last a day but needed to get off the mountain because of the winter storm expected early Wednesday.