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cluck

3 Lost on Mount Hood

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I can tell by your post that you mean absolutely no disrespect towards these three stranded climbers and your intentions are good so I'm sorry if you feel that I'm flaming you...but I feel compelled to point out to you and several other people that I have heard on this board, that refering to these men as hikers, is really underestimating their abilities and what they were prepared to deal with. I know that many think it is pretentious to care about what you are called but I think that we owe them the respect of calling them climbers and moutaineers.

 

Hiking is something I do on the weekends with my girlfriend. Hiking is somthing that I do on a trail or trail system. Hiking is something that I can sometimes do with little more than a water bottle and a pair of sneakers. THERE ARE NO HIKING ROUTES TO THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT HOOD! (despite what you may hear from many people) Refering to these 3 as lost or stranded hikers is showing them and what they are doing a great deal of disrespect in some peoples minds.

 

I am very new to mountaineering so I don't mean to preach and perhaps most mountaineers don't care what you call them unless it's late for dinner but I can't help but cringe every time I read or hear a reporter referring to them as hikers. I have an immense ammount of respect for people who climb mountains and do it safely. These 3 seemed as well prepared as they could have been and it would seem that their chances of walking away from this very soon are very good indeed.

 

Every good vibe I can muster at a time like this is going out to the stranded and possibly injured climbers, their family and friends, and everyone involved in the rescue effort. I'm looking forward to reading the book about all this when they get together and write it. Anyone know which one of the three is the better writer?

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Bryan was considering this as preparation for Everest. Nothing more needs to be said about their abilities except that they definitely are experts and probably better than the SAR guys looking for them.

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right...thanks for recapping what I just said. At least that's what I was trying to say. Or did you miss the point of my post entirely?

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Since my brother is one of the SAR guys looking I hope you mean no disrespect. He has climbed several mountains both in and out of the USA. Portland Mountain Rescue trains constantly and I am sure the other teams do as well. They are all very experianced climbers.

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My brother is also one of the SAR guys. These rescue teams are always training, two or more times a month.

 

PS: I thought you were going to sign off.

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No disrespect at all. My point is that these guys are no rookies and I was trying to point that out. I'm sorry if I was not clear.

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C-130 Will Fly 24 Hours

 

 

 

MOUNT HOOD, Ore. - A hopeful day ended in disappointment when ground crews were forced to descend the mountain once again Saturday.

 

The six climbing crews could not move as quickly as they would have liked due to reduced visibility on the mountain. High winds picked up the soft snow on the ground, making it difficult for rescuers to cover much ground. Gusts were reported at speeds higher 40 mph.

 

Climbers were hoping to summit the mountain and descend the north side of the mountain where they believe Kelly James is holed up in a snow cave. Most crews were able to reach the 10,600-foot level before time constraints forced them back down.

 

The aerial search will continue through the night. The C-130 military plane brought in from Reno, Nev., to help with the search will by flying 24 hours a day. Two crews will work back-to-back 12-hour shifts, only landing briefly to refuel. The C-130 is equipped with heat-sensing technology and can fly in more extreme weather conditions.

 

The two Blackhawks have been operating between the 9,000-foot and 11,500-foot level and will continue to scan the mountain until it is too dark to safely fly.

 

Authorities insisted they have no plans to call off the search and remain optimistic that they will find Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke.

 

Capt. Michael Braibish says, "We will take every opportunity, every chance, whether it's ground or air to get our crews up there."

 

The ground search will resume 9 a.m. Sunday. Authorities say weather is expected to be as good as or better than it was Saturday.

 

 

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One of the bigest challenges is staying busy and not thinking too much, what we did was build a snow cave complex, including a bathroom. these caves will stink, but we had overnight gear and extra fuel/food. Humidity is a problem, you mitigate it by venting, and if your bag is down it will loose insulating value, but you really only need a 40 degree bag anyway.

What is key here is just how hurt is Kelley? This info is key to what Brian and Jerry did. With out facts it is very difficult to speculate how urgent they felt they needed to get help. I am sure that Kelley's condition would dictate Brain and Jerry's actions.

If the searchers have any FACTS about K3elley they need to share that info with this board, we can probably come up with some pretty focused scenerio's as to the probable locations. A recap of all the FACTS with a timeline would be most helpful to include the gear list.

Please SAR folks let the board in on the facts including where you have looked, I am sure that you have GPS data on searches???

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O.K. since there are a lot of "newbies" looking in with some posting who do not know the terminology and are being disrespectful, without, I hope, intending to be, here are a few things for those who have not read every single post from this forum.

 

The climbers supposedly headed up the NF. The NF above the Elliot glacier is a technical climb that requires frozen conditions. Mt. Hood is a volcano with a lot of choss (read loose unconsolidated rock). You must climb when this route is frozen which is pretty much the late fall through the early spring. Any other time is too dangerous to climb this route, generally.

 

The climbers seem to have experience in other arenas and they were not hikers. Please do not refer to them as hikers - they are climbers or mountaineers (in this instance).

 

The weather last week, when they set off seemed like prime conditions to do this route.

 

Climbing in "alpine style" also known as "light and fast" does not mean that they are not prepared. It is a climbing term used to distinguish that from an expedition style climb where you ferry loads up the mountain for a long time with a lot of gear. Think Denali or the Himalayas generally. This means that they were not carrying a ton of gear that would slow them down and less to carry. This does not mean that they were not prepared for the elements. I have witnessed guys who forgo toothbrush, place holes in their spoons and buy only the lightest gear to save a mere ounces on climbs and they do this without leaving behind some form of the "10 essentials" (Google this list if you don't know them)

 

To climb the North face requires rope, pro (protection) including ice screws, pickets (long aluminum bars hammered into snow as anchors), and even rock pro (placing gear in cracks that will hopefully stop a fall).

 

They also carried crampons (12 point metal spikes strapped to boots to climb ice) and ice tools (ice axes that are shorter and more angled picks to bight into the ice and help them climb).

 

Nikko stated on a post a few weeks ago when trying to obtain beta (climber's term for information about a route)that he would be carrying a bivy sack and half bag (bivy sack is a nylon, waterproof shell that can be used in emergencies to provide shelter from the elements (think mini tent without poles that weighs very little or a shell for your sleeping bag) It also adds about 10-15 degrees of warmth. So if you have a half bag (half sleeping bag or a down parka) combined with a bivy sack, you can be quite warm and stay dry plus decrease weight.

 

They were carrying fuel and stove for melting water and had food (quantity not known).

 

Snow caves are amazing shelters and in a storm if I had to choose between a snow cave or the strongest 4 season mountaineering tent, I would choose a snow cave. If built correctly, they are very strong and stable. It can be quite balmy inside with temps around 35-45 degrees F and will totally protect you from the wind and snow. You must maintain an opening (small) so that carbon monoxide can escape and get fresh air. Your main entrance opening needs to be below the area you reside inside to protect from the elements. Also remember that hot air rises. You can also live in a snow cave for along time.

 

The rescuers are the best around and are doing everything they can up there. It is easy to armchair quarterback things from behind your computer while sipping on your late by the fire, but most people would not last 5 minutes in the conditions these rescuers have been in for days, so please refrain from questioning their abilities.

 

The Cooper Spur (a ridge to the left of the North Face) is a popular ascent and descent route of Mt. Hood. It is a long ridge that is a really fun climb without too many technical dificulties. However, there have been several accidents on this route as many people descending it have fallen near the top where it is steep and do not stop until they hit the Elliot glacier 2,000' below. This is due to unstable snow slopes where people wearing crampons slip on wet/loose snow or their crampons ball up (climbing term where snow builds up between the teeth of the crampons and the points of the crampons no longer have contact with the snow surface - like walking in mud where after a few steps you have 4 inches of mud on the bottom of your shoes and you are slipping everywhere) This happens typically when wet snow collects under the crampons or the snow has warmed and when it is sunny this can happen. Unlikely with the type of snow we have here. The Cooper Spur is a good descent option if you had to. Yes, it is steep, but really not that bad once lower on the ridge. Avalanche is a concern on this route, however. There is another descent option if looking at the NF on the right side called the Sunshine Route - to the right of the Elliot headwall and North Face. This route is even less technical than the Cooper Spur (also debateable) and maybe more comparable to the South Side but with route-finsing issues and glaciers and crevasses. However, it can be a difficult route to navigate on the upper portion. It does not have any glaciers on the upper section and is straight forward once lower if the route is in good condition.

 

Avalanches are dangerous. The conditions on the mountain now are that a lot of snow has fallen over the last week. It fell on top of another layer of snow that was exposed to sun for several days and that surface went through what is called a melt/refreeze cycle and made the surface very slippery. Now, with the new snow on top of that, it can slide off the slippery surface below creating what is called a slab avalanche. If the upper layer is heavy enough, it can slide naturally and is the type of condiitons the rescuers are facing now. This is dangerous for the rescuers because they could be ascending a stable slope only to have a naturally triggered slid occur 1,000' above them and still kill or injure rescuers.

 

Last week's weather was perfect, so questioning why any climber would go out in this weather is misfounded. If all had gone to plan, then the climbers would have been down and away from the mountain before the bad weather hit.

 

Mountain locator units are available, but in my 15 years of climbing, I have never met or climbed with anyone using one. In the climbing community, they are sometimes called "body locator units" because, to my knowledge, they have not been used successfully in a rescue of a climber on a mountain who was still alive. Maybe I need some more education in this matter.

 

Climbing is inherently dangerous, but so is driving in rush-hour traffic. The cost of rescue for climbers in minscule compared with the cost of rescue for others like snow mobilers, hunters, hikers, and fisherman.

 

I am sure there are other questions from non-climbers out there. Many of them have been answered in previous posts, so if you are a non-climber or have not been following this entire forum, pleae read all posts and I bet your questions have already been answered. Keep hope alive. People can survive in snow caves for a loooong time.

 

In summary, it does not appear from a climber's perspective, that these climbers did anything wrong per say in climbing when they did. It blew me away that they left as much information as they did about their intended route. I do not do this myself to the degree that they did and may reconsider on future climbs. They seem well within their abilities, chose a route in prime condition and right time of year, and it seems nothing more than dumb luck that one of the climbers may have been injured coupled by the impending storm that was coming in. And living in Portland, was not made a big deal about by the news or media until late Friday evening (when the climbers were on route and supposed to be descending.)Remember, they left their car on Wednesday, before any weather reports were out that a major wind storm dumping feet of sanow would hit the following week.

 

Thanks again to Alasdair, Iain and the others (PMR, Crag Rats, etc.) for putting their lives on hold in hopes of bringing back those climbers to their loved ones so that their lives can continue.

 

 

Also, thanks for all of the regular climbers/posters who just read through that long newbie post. If y'all have anything else to add about basics that would help newbies better understand the terminlogy, please feel free to add anything I left out.

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It would be nice if the rubber neckin' spectators would do more reading and less writing. Karma is powered by silence.

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. Karma is powered by silence.

 

Oregon and NC, what a commute, best of both worlds

 

Quick rule I learned

 

4' without O2

4 hrs without shelter

4 days without water

4 weeks without food

 

Now I'm silent

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Ryland Moore, thanks for the "newbie" post. As an avid backpacker, and beginning mountaineer (winter backpacking in mountainous regions like the Daks' with peak bagging excursions on non-technical peaks), I appreciate your explanation, and the time you took to explain the situation. Further, I agree that those guys SHOULD NOT be called hikers. Hopefully reporters will get it right someday.

 

I know the backpacking community is following this story and hoping for a positive outcome. I, along with many of my fellow backpackers will be keeping the climbers, thier families and the SAR people in our thoughts.

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The guy planning on climbing today posted on another thread yesterday that he and his buddy had rethought their plans and changed their minds.

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Mr. Moore - Very good basic explanation. I agree with most of your post, but I would consider the Sunshine Route more technical than Cooper Spur. Depending on the year, navigating through the crevasses can be tricky. Cooper Spur is very steep, but straight-forward. I would rather descend Cooper Spur (being very careful at the top) with a heavy load or injured climber than zig-zag my way through crevasses & over uncertain snow bridges. I must admit that I was a bit pessimistic at first, but the more I learn about these climbers the more optimistic I am. Given adequate clothing and a little food, they should be able to make it if they are indeed in a snow cave. Let's hope the SAR guys can get higher on Sunday.

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Folks, I have a good feeling that tomorrow is the day. There will be enough clearing that SAR is going to get up and find the lone climber; and the weather is going to clear enough that the other two are going to pop their heads out of the cave and be seen. Whether the two are still on the mountain or have blindly descended into a forest somewhere, tomorrow is going to be the day.

 

My hat goes off to the SAR folks who, as volunteers, have risked their wellbeing for days. It is that type of giving attitude, that kind of volunteerism that makes the climbing community a group of beautiful people.

 

Keep the good thoughts, tomorrow will be the day!

 

Eric

 

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Since many newbies are reading this thread and reading about climbing Hood routes, I just wanted to echo a couple good points.

 

CLS is quite correct in that Sunshine is a more technical route than Cooper Spur, mainly due to the less direct approach and crevasses in route. When I have climbed Sunshine, I have descended by Cooper Spur. I would not recommend descent of Sunshine.

 

Ryland is right on in his discussion of the perils of descending Cooper Spur. If in a difficult situation (time, energy, conditions), definitely descend the South Side route.

 

If climbing Hood (or anywhere in the Western US), I suggest going to the NOAA website (there is a link on the skihood.com website) and obtaining a pinpoint forecast.

 

Blessings to all on the mountain: climbers, rescuers, family.

 

Mitakye Onsin

 

 

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A couple notes on snow caves. As many have said they are primo when conditions suck. Having spent a few nights in one over the years, including on Hood here are a few thoughts. I would guess that if Kelly James is able to do anything he has been "developing" the cave with each day so that it is more comfortable and more protected. When you do not have much to do but wait it out things like this help out the mind and pass the time.

 

If I remember correctly from my ascents of Hood, including the Spur Route. The NF gullies and the Spur route are in very close proximity and it is reasonable to traverse from the NF over the Spur which to me would be a logical descent, especially because they would have seen it on the way up.

 

BTW Your storm is hitting us in Ootah tonight. I'll be skiing one for the boys tomorrow.

Edited by ScaredSilly

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Hello Guys,

 

Since I learned from the TV about the incident I have been looking for some updated info in any reachable source. I am not a forum person but occasionally get involved. I respect this site because it has many experienced and competent members. Unfortunately, after several attempts of reading a few posts (here) I immediately backed up. The reason was simple: too much anger, too much fight, to many inconclusive arguments. There is a lot of good stuff as well but too much work to go through.

 

However, after reading the last comprehensive post of ryland_moore, I decided to add my input. I am well surprised how much I was able to learn from this short but well put writing, but most importantly I really appreciate his effort to reconcile the members and move the forum's focus to its initial purpose.

 

I have only one suggestion that I believe is very important for the mountaineers with (in this case) limited experience (again, no offence) to avoid any surprises in their feature climbs: weather factor. Regardless of the weather forecast, any mountain climber should be aware of and prepare for any rapid, unexpected weather changes (including snow/icy conditions) especially on volcanoes such as Mt Hood and especially in this time of the year. The weather changes have caused many accidents because climbers were not prepared for them to occur. The climbers were not prepared mentally, gear wise, and/or even fuel/food wise to handle the stress, conditions, and possible quarantine. "Always expect the worst..." "Never count on luck."

 

This input is not to disrespect these three experienced climbers. We don't even know what has happened up there. They may have been dead since Tuesday. My great concern is why they did not show up, did not give any sign while there was so much noise in the air from the aircrafts. I am as nervous about the whole situation as all of you. That is why I want to believe they will be found alive. As long as the weather is "feasible" the search should be continued. But as ryland_moore explained, we don't want any new disaster, any new victims, even though the search people are fully aware of that possibility and still are taking high risk. So be careful guys (the search teams) and good luck (yes in this case they need it).

 

...damn, this forum is fast!

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So are the SAR folks going to find these guys if they weren't able to get out of their snow caves and get down on a clear day like today?

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Mrd and others,

 

Let me try and explain it to you this way and see if it makes mores sense.

 

We now know that they did bring some pretty solid gear with them for a short Mt. Hood trip. They had a stove, fuel, shovel, bivy sacks, at least half bags/down parkas and food. We do not know the quantities, but knowing what the weather forecast was last Wednesday when they left, I think they were fully prepared. Now, with that said, from reading your post it makes it sound like they should have been more prepared. I am not sure where you live, but weather reports out here can never be relied on fully and in many instances must be taken with a grain of salt especially with the large volcanic peaks around here where they can have isolated weather that is not witnessed even 5 miles away from the mountain itself (think lenticulars here) and therefore weather reports would not cover such localized systems.

 

Being prepared is one thing, but this gets back to the light and fast vs. over-packing and placing the rest of the climbing team in danger issue. Is it a gamble? Some may think so. But the way your post sounds you would expect them to have 10 days of food and fuel for a one day climb. When the weather is stellar and the climbing doesn't take more than 2 days away from the car if all goes well, then taking a bunch of gear may actually hinder a team more than going "fast and light".

 

If I may relate this to something most people would understand, what you are telling climbers to do would be the same thing as me saying that you should wear a bearproof suit every time you go on a hike in the woods because you maybe attacked by a bear. Or every time you go swimming in the ocean, you need to wear sharkproof chainmail, because you maybe attacked by a shark.

 

I do not know this for fact, but looking at Fugedaboudit's previous post and the detail he went to gather information, I guarantee you they were looking at the weather. It also sounds like their travel days were somewhat flexible on when they would come out (I do not know this or have not seen any info. on this) because Fuggedaboudit was talking of coming out a little earlier in December, I believe, and because of the Hwy 35 closure and flooding issues from the Nov. rains, the highway was not going to be open until the Saturday before they started the climb. SO, I bet they were watching all of the weather reports so that they did not fly out here to be socked in by weather. I will say this again. I do not see anything apparent, from a climber's perspective that they did wrong, with the information we have. I would say that it is just dumb luck. As if you or I were walking down the street and were hit by a falling tree.

 

It is not like they started their climb in stormy conditions. They should have been up and off the hill before the storms even hit. And the really bad storms did not come until a week after they started their two-day climb. I will also note that their really were not any weather rports of really bad storms until Friday - two days after they set out on the climb.

 

All climbers should be prepared, and although bad weather can hit at any time, climber's will minimize risk at all costs and take the essentials and then figure out a way to make do if things go bad, which is rare.

 

Climbers are not some risky thrill-seekers. I look at what skateboarders, kite boarders, steep creek kayakers, and paragliders do and think they are crazy.

 

I also think people who weave in and out of traffic are crazy too. Bottom line is that the media does sensationalize climbing accidents, but in reality they happen few and far between when compared to other recreational pursuits.

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It was nowhere near clear at the top of the mountain today. 50-mph winds and near white-out conditions turned SAR back at 10,000 feet. Good new is that the choppers spotted a piece of gear about 300 feet from the summit.

 

See this update: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1166329517283160.xml&coll=7

 

The article also gives some info on why SAR came back down.

 

Edit: fixed link.

Edited by zl27

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