Reckless Mount Hood Climbers Put Rescue Crews at Risk During Pandemic

·2 min read
Clackamas County Sheriff
Clackamas County Sheriff

Apparently a global pandemic isn’t enough danger for some people. Rescue crews had to save three people on Mount Hood this weekend, endangering their own health in the process.

Portland Mountain Rescue said the first mission began late Friday night after a climber summited but got lost in whiteout conditions on the way back, with no water and a dying cellphone.

By the time a team reached him early in the morning, he was hypothermic, and it took two teams 12 hours to bring him down from an elevation of 6,200 feet.

The volunteer search-and-rescue organization said it was finishing up the first mission on Saturday when it got a call about a couple who triggered an avalanche on a challenging stretch of the mountain.

“They were swept all the way down the route onto the Reid Glacier and miraculously survived with limited injuries,” PMR wrote on Facebook.

The first mission required 30 rescuers and the second one needed 20, the group said, asking outdoor enthusiasts not to take chances that might put crews in danger—not just from the mountain conditions, but from COVID-19.

“We know you want to get out, but please, please be conservative in your choices,” the group wrote. “Although we have conservative Covid protocols, it really is impossible to maintain them throughout a mission.”

PMR’s Mark Morford told The Oregonian that Mount Hood was even more crowded than on previous Memorial Day weekends.

“I think there’s a tremendous amount of pent up demand, people wanting to get out,” he said. "It looked like a conga line going up Hogsback… What a circus.”

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said that more than 200 climbers were on the mountain on Saturday despite a high avalanche danger caused by 10 inches of fresh snow amid warming temperatures.

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