Injured climber Rescued on Mt Hood 

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Mt Hood, Ore.— On Tuesday evening January 26, 2022, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office received a report that a climber fell from the Hogsback snow ridge in the Mt. Hood crater and slid into the Devils Kitchen fumarole.  He landed on rocks deep in the fumarole cavity and sustained serious injuries. The Climber was identified as 28 year old George Stevens from Idaho.

Mr Stevens and his two friends started for the summit late in the day on January 26. When they reached the steep Hogsback snow ridge on their descent, the surface was slick with frozen ice. The climber attempted to snowboard down from this ridge, but lost his edge and slid out of control into the open fumarole a few hundred feet below. A volcanic fumarole is a fissure in the rock that vents hot, toxic gasses and melts large cavities deep underneath the snow that can open up into steep holes. Two of these fumaroles are located in the direct fall lines for the most popular climbing routes on Mt. Hood.  Mr Stevens fell to the rocky, exposed bottom of the fumarole cavity where he was seriously injured and unable to extract himself. They called 911 for a rescue.

The Hood River County Sheriff’s office led the rescue response and deployed more than 20 volunteer rescuers from the Hood River Crag Rats and Portland Mountain Rescue.  Two teams of rescuers were sent high on the mountain to extract and lower the injured climber to safety. A rescuer wearing a respirator and using gas monitors was lowered to Mr Stevens around midnight. The team stabilized Stevens and hoisted him to the surface where he was loaded in a litter.  Using ropes, the rescuers then lowered him down steep ice slopes to the top of the Palmer ski lift, where he was transferred to a snow cat that transported him to Timberline Lodge parking lot and a waiting ambulance. 

This was the third rescue on Mt. Hood in only five days.  Clear skies during the past week have encouraged many people to explore winter conditions high on the mountain.  Even on a clear day, however, Mt. Hood’s winter is a severe and unforgiving environment. Climbing in these conditions requires technical equipment and advanced mountaineering skills.  With short daylight, extreme low temperatures and wind, the mountain remains icy and slick, and gives no margin for error.  Over the past week, rescuers have observed climbers on Mt. Hood without appropriate equipment, lacking navigation and mountaineering skills, and generally unprepared for these conditions.   Interested climbers are encouraged to hire a guide or seek training from an established climbing club.

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