Oregon Army National Guard medics came through with a daring rescue on Saturday, complete with a precarious mountaintop landing, to airlift a stranded, injured climber from the dangerous slopes of Mt. Hood.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release detailing the rescue process on Sunday, sharing a photo of the landed chopper waiting for medics to load the injured climber for evacuation.
News Release: Injured Climber Airlifted by Oregon Army National Guard Helicopter
— Clackamas Sheriff (@ClackCoSheriff) July 3, 2022
“Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office deputies launched a search-and-rescue mission after a climber fell several hundred feet near the Old Chute area of Mt. Hood. The climber was transported off the mountain with serious injuries to an area hospital,” the press release began, before going into details of what had actually happened.
“At around 6:30 am on Saturday, July 2 a 43-year-old man from Happy Valley was climbing Mt. Hood, when he fell several hundred feet and sustained serious injuries. Witnesses reported the climber lost his ice axe and fell approximately 600-700 feet from the summit ridge to the rocks above the Hot Rocks fumarole,” the release continued.
A large-scale search-and-rescue mission had begun then, including local authorities and volunteers — but when rescue crews reached the climber, they determined that an airlift was going to be necessary.
“Around 1 p.m. a helicopter from the Oregon Army National Guard arrived at the location and dropped off 2 medics. A litter was also lowered,” the press release stated. “The medics packaged the patient in the litter and the litter was hoisted into the helicopter. The injured climber was flown to a Portland-area hospital where he is receiving medical care.”
In the press release, the sheriff’s office also noted that the steep slopes and icy conditions make Mt. Hood a dangerous place to climb regardless of the season — and mentioned that another serious accident had occurred only about a week earlier.
“On June 24, a 31-year-old woman from Portland was climbing Mt. Hood, when she fell several hundred from the summit ridge down the Old Chute, resulting in critical injuries and a helicopter evacuation,” the sheriff’s office added.
But once the photo began circulating on social media, all anyone could talk about was the skillful manner in which the pilot had landed on the mountain.
“Wow amazing to set a helo down on Mt Hood like this,” NPR’s Bill Chappell tweeted.
“A+ parking job,” Business Insider’s Thomas Maxwell added.
Ian Petchenik declared, “You’ll never be able to convince me that piloting a helicopter isn’t a form of sorcery.”
Oregon Office of Emergency Management chief Andrew Phelps added, “Way to stick the landing, @OregonGuard! Wishing the climber a full and quick recovery! A lot of search and rescue missions over the holiday weekend. Make sure you have a plan and are prepared to SAFELY enjoy all that Oregon has to offer.”