16-year-old rock climber plummets 500 feet on icy Oregon mountain: 'It's inherently dangerous'

Katie Mather

Officials say a 16-year-old rock climber is lucky to be alive after falling off Oregon's Mount Hood on Monday.

The fall occurred sometime around 9 a.m. as the climber was with a group that was scheduled to make the ascent towards the mountain's summit, according to ABC News. The area is known as the Pearly Gates and is known as one of the more narrow paths, with warnings about congestion and ice falling. 

He fell approximately 500 feet down into a valley known as Devil's Kitchen. 

The group who was with the teenager reported to authorities that he was in stable condition but might have broken his leg. Due to where the 16-year-old fell and the elevation being over 10,000 feet, the rescue was anticipated to take several hours.

"It's a technical mountain — it's not a Sunday stroll, it's inherently dangerous," Lt. Brian Jensen of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office told Portland ABC affiliate KATU. "Going up there, you need to have the proper skill set and the proper equipment to do so safely. And doing so with anything less than that can be dangerous."

The climber was reached around 1 p.m. as temperatures hit the mid-30s. Once he made it down to the bottom of the mountain, he was taken away in an ambulance to a nearby hospital.

"My family and my son want to thank everyone who helped rescue him, may the new year shower you with health and happiness," the climber's father told ABC News in a statement.

Mount Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon and one of the most-climbed mountains in the world. According to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, the search-and-rescue team makes about 70 rescues on Mount Hood annually.

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