Crews found one climber dead and another with critical injuries on Oregon’s Mount Hood Monday after they were forced to pause rescue efforts over the weekend due to avalanche conditions and deep snow.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office launched a multiteam search-and-rescue mission on Sunday after two climbers fell around 200 feet in the Leuthold Couloir area of Mount Hood, the agency said in a news release.
Both climbers had initially been injured in the fall, but one of them was able to call 911 using a cellphone and also used a Garmin inReach device to notify an emergency contact something was wrong, according to the sheriff’s office.
A rescue team was deployed, with volunteer rescuers also joining the effort.
The sheriff’s office said rescuers were met with “extremely challenging” conditions, with winds blowing between 50 to 70 mph.
By around 11:40 p.m. Sunday, the first climbing team was able to make it within around 700 feet elevation below the two climbers, according to the release. The team was ultimately forced to turn back due to heightened avalanche danger in the area.
On Monday, the sheriff’s office said rescuers were finally able to reach the two climbers, despite Mount Hood seeing at least two natural-release avalanche events that day.
When they reached the climbers, they found that one of them had died.
As rescuers looked to get the second climber to safety, the sheriff’s office said they were forced to make “the tough decision to leave the deceased on the mountain, with plans to mount a recovery mission when conditions improve.”
With winds too strong to carry out a chopper rescue, crews carried the second climber on foot before using a snowcat to take them to medical personnel staged nearby, according to the release. The rescue effort ended around 7 p.m., and the climber was taken to a hospital for treatment, the sheriff’s office said.
It is unclear what their relationship was to the deceased. The sheriff’s office did not identify either of the climbers, but said identification would be forthcoming.