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3 Lost on Mount Hood


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In fact, there is MUCH to be gleaned by parsing the details of this accident, from building a snow cave, to what to bring on a climb (winter or summer), to how to stay alive until someone gets to you if you're in trouble.


Start a new thread or threads. Parsing the details here has become an inappropriate spectacle.

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I am a "former" climber that hung it up when the kids came along. Also an inactive member of one of the involved mountain rescue organizations.


I have never posted here before, but have enjoyed reading the posts to supplement the TV. This is a great gathering place to discuss and contemplate. I think the speculation is healthy, since it will assist us all with problem solving in the field.


The fact that the "Y" was initially interpreted as a distress signal shows that the facts are being interpreted by individuals from all sorts of background. A military pilot might have rightly interpreted it as a signal, but a climber would quickly say that is a rope slung around an anchor. The bottomline is no one is wrong but everyone is putting in 100% to solve this and figure out what happened.


I noticed earlier that there was a suggestion that the climbers were probably more experienced than the SAR folks. No way. The SAR folks train usually a weekend a month- the required dedication and preparation is amazing. The SAR folks sacrifice many thankless hours and are the best on the Northwest volcanoes.


About 8 years ago I knew a very experienced husband/wife that died attempting a North side descent during the typical climbing season. Anyone that has peered over the North side from the summit knows it is serious business - Especially when a decision is made to climb in the winter. Assuming the "Y" was used to descend back down the North side, the taunt rope with equal tightness on all aspects suggests it had considerable weight on it. All three climbers or just one? However, such an anchor would prevent retrieval of the rope after all repel. It is a curious set up when you are still a long way from getting down - Unless they always figured that it would be a "throwaway" rope to be used in a hairy portion of the descent. I am curious what others think.





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I can't tell you how much I appreciate you all taking me (and many others) into your "family" during this past week.


I did climb at one point and while I loved many aspects of it, one of the best was the climbing community I met. You all have only reinforced that.


I feel like you have coached, encouraged..."belayed" me well through this.


I continue to pray for the other 2 to be able to hang on...


Thanks again.


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so as soon as this is over are all you people going to go away?

Do I sense some hopefulness?


I'll leave that for you to decide....mostly just curious.


I don't have a problem with all you new folks, climbers or non climbers, form Texas or the East Coast or wherever using our forum to discuss this climbing tragedy.


Some of the regulars here have some funny threads started mocking your posts, but I'll leave it up to you to find them.

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I've been following this, and I seem to get the idea, they were not prepared. Prepared to climb, not prepared to be there for any length of time. I've only heard mention of a Gortex Bivy bag. Was this the ECWS system, and were they carrying the other parts. Did they have stoves, fuel, MREs, tent or even reflective mirrors.


A gortex bivy is great without a tent in a snow cave. I always carry 2 to 4 bottles of fuel, even on 2 day outing, just in case. I have a MSR stove, and also a small German stove, about the size of a can of shoe polish. I also carry a can of shoe polish, as easy to light. And several small plastic boxes sealed with firestarter, waterproof matches, Trioxane, and a keyring, with a tiny led light, fingernail cutters and a P-38 can opener. One box on my belt, one on my vest, and 1 in my pack.


A MRE in my belt pouch, 1 or 2 in my day pack, and 1 or 2 in my full pack. They all have Matches, Food, Toilet paper(Emergency kindleing) and other essentials.


If I'm hiking a trail, even if I'm going 1 mile, I carry all this stuff. I also keep this pack in the back of my Van.


I hope these guys are OK, but you also need to be preparred for the worst. Mt. Hood isn't a walk thru a wooded trail in the summer.


Yeah, I got 60 lbs of extra crap in my pack, but I'd rather have the extra work lugging it around, then not have it when I needed it.


And when you start leaving rope, and especially a Bivy bag behind, it's looking bad.


Again, my prayers to the climbers and family. And next time you're going out, don't throw that second canister of fuel back into your vehicle to lighten your load by 2 lbs.

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The Oregonian ^ | 12/15/06 |

Survivor of '76: If we made it, they can too


Just part of the story:


Three teens walked out after 13 days in a snow cave on Mount Hood


It's been almost 31 years since Randy Knapp and two high school friends emerged from their 13th night in a wet, cold snow cave on Mount Hood, where they held onto hope through prayers and struggled to survive while a snowstorm raged outside.


Knapp, 48 the father of two said he wanted to give the climbers' families some hope. "Ten days into it, I could hear the helicopter up there searching, and that gave us hope," he said. "I wouldn't write these guys off. They're experienced mountain climbers, and I wouldn't give up hope. They can make it."


Knapp said they continually watched their altimeter, which works off a barometer and signaled when weather was coming in. On the last night, high pressure moved in and Knapp said he dug out the opening. It had snowed so much that the entrance tunnel was 40 feet long, and there was 15 feet of snow on top of them.


The searchers had been out for 12 days and were about to give up. A Sno-Cat picked them up and took them to Timberline Lodge. Each had lost about 30 pounds, Knapp said.


While he was missing, Knapp said his family was glued to the evening news. The reports continually speculated that the boys would not survive. "It was a source of tremendous strain on my family to listen to the negativity coming out of some of the press, not all of it," Knapp said.


He and his buddies went back and climbed Mount Hood the next year. Wary of publicity, they used false names in the climber's register, Knapp said.


These climbers were teens and they knew what to do to survive. The climbers on Mt. Hood now are seasoned. They can make it.

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I'll throw out another theory on the two snow caves (not that it matters at this point), but there was a cell phone ping that reportedly came from different location adjacent to the first call location in the middle of the week. Granted they could have come from the same location - and it was just the margin of error from the recievers - but what if Kelly traversed out of the cave to find a better cell signal and later could not find his way back to the first cave (that had the rope, tools, etc.) due to the stormy weather necessitating digging a second cave.


I have been on Hood in horrible conditions and it's not a walk in the park (esp. at altitude) and I can easily imagine getting disoriented in nuclear conditions. The footprints in the snow look like doubles going uphill.


I think it is very apparent the the "Y" is not a visible rescue sign, but an anchor around the rock. If you were in nuclear conditions near the top of Hood you would have to anchor yourself or you'd get blown off.


I dearly hope Wy'east spits out the others alive.

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Thanks to all of you for all the support. The families of the climbers and the SARS really appreciate you. My brother is home safe for tonight. I don't know if he will be back on the mountain tomorrow, after two days up there he is pretty beat.


May God hug you all. good night

Edited by ihuntifish
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Lyn, read that exact same article before.


Notice: Knapp and Schneider, whose father taught mountaineering.


Yeah, with all this crap, not doing a NF quickie. But not into "quickies", not an Adreneline junkie. But still do the "quickie" on the NF, and make sure you got some food, stove, fuel, firestarters, etc. Break it down to 10 extra pounds.


And you live thru a NF quickie in December.


If you go to altitude without emergency gear and supplies, you're asking for it. And I'm the kind of guy, that has to have gear and supplies enough for 1 to 2 weeks, if seperated from others. I make sure, if I'm seperated from my main pack, my daypack has basic food, fuel, firemaking. And if seperated from that, my LBV/Belt also has same backup. My personal safety kit is securely on my LBV/belt, and I sleep in that thing, never take it off when out.


Some of my friends used to joke about me carrying all this stuff, when they thought it wouldn't be needed, but over the years, after a few emergencies and issues, they all carry alot of gear/supplies.


Firestarter and a pack of Trioxane = Keep Living in an altitude emergency.

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I need to say tha this has been theraputic for me. It is difficult to set back this last week and watch this unfold when you would like to help in some way. You need to know your limitations and I do not know about hood to volunteer with SAR. This has been very easy to get really emotionally involved and consume your thoughts. You have to let it go. This forum has given me connection with others that feel the same. Pray the other two will be found alive and we can all learn what transpired on the mountain that lead us to this point of discussion and concern for the climbers and thier families. Thanks to ALL invloved with the SAR! And thanks to all on this site for your input.

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Shini, I do a lot of adventure racing - racing others through off-trail mountainous terrain on foot, bike, and kayak. I wouldn't last through one race if I was tripling up on gear like you are. There is a huge difference between going fast in the backcountry, enjoying the experience, and planning successfully enough to get to the objective versus being 100% ready for any possible scenario that may occur. Do you take a radiation suit with you in case of nuclear fallout? I think not - and this is due to an assessment of risk. You just analyze risk differently than the Hood climbers but that doesn't make them wrong or you right.


These guys had the intention of going light and fast, they had a decent weather window to do so, and more to the point we don't really know what they have on them in terms of gear. No matter how much gear you have there is still a chance that all that gear isn't going to help much if you've been in a horrible accident. And in fact, it may weigh you down too much to appropriately and quickly respond to an emergency on the mountain. This is the point that several climbers have brought up in response to the "light and fast" discussion.

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Apparently, our prayers have been answered this week that all searchers return safely. Best wishes and grateful thanks to your family and all of you and your brother's associates.

From a distance, the professionalism of the responders, volunteers, law-enforcement, military, technological and others has been very impressive.

From all I have read, I would climb with anyone of these three, just as Nikko Cooke put his faith in Brian and Kelly. He had seen their expertise and good judgment in action.

Kelly's phone had GPS and was the equivalent of the rental signal units. The rescue was hampered by weather, not a signal problem. The body was found where his cell-phone coordinates indicated.

They went up in a favorable weather window with proper equipment. They almost undoubtedly had an accident prior to the start of the storms.

When I was younger and this was my favorite thing to do, I was the first to say, "off the mountain now," and still had a couple of very close calls. Things change fast on mountains, in every season.

Someone asked if the newbies will soon be going away?

I lurk and post on Northeast hiking and climbing boards and recognized several posters here that post there. They are anything but newbies as you might have gleaned from one Easterner's posts about her experiences on Hood.

We are a worldwide community of people with common interests and lessons learned from varied expeditions.

I've learned a lot here in four days, prior to my first post, and I thank all involved.

I join Ivan and many others in saying the next few days are not the time for criticisms and negativity toward the involved climbers. Real professionals, paid and volunteer, will do the proper review in the proper time frame.

Now is the time for this community to support the families and searchers and pray for the rescue of the missing men.

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At first I wanted to post thoughts, insight and rants about some of the specifics of what I am reading here. I thought better of it but do want to say to those of you seeking information not everything here is sound advice there are obviously lots of armchair mountaineers, "experienced outdoorsman" and gawkers that are posting poor information and advice -just take it all with a grain of salt!


Really I just want to say it has been a hard year for the climbing community, if we have lost another RIP and you will be remembered and missed. My heartfelt condolences go out to family and friends. I have lost a couple of friends to the climbing this year alone. I think I may have met the Dallas guys in Ouray, if so they were friendly and amiable, great guys!


I wish the best for the 2 climbers still unaccounted for and my Christmas charity donation this year is going to one of the SAR groups in the Portland/Hood area.



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Firestarter and a pack of Trioxane = Keep Living in an altitude emergency.


what exactly are you planning to burn at the summit of Mt Hood in 80mph winds? Your clothes?


These guys knew what they were doing and were prepared, obviously some thing unexpected happened. We call them ACCIDENTS. Untill you know what happened STFU!


Stop disrespecting the deceased by second guessing their preparedness, no body cares about what a good boy scout you are.

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Yikes. This might be the most ignorant post or comment—including those from the bozos on fox—I've heard since this incident began. In fact, there is MUCH to be gleaned by parsing the details of this accident, from building a snow cave, to what to bring on a climb (winter or summer), to how to stay alive until someone gets to you if you're in trouble. To dismiss this without discussion disrespects the climbers far more than analyzing the particulars of their demise.

then you might be interested in buying this fine publication every year - imagine stripping this thread down to the quintessential facts and lessons - you'd get about 3-4 paragraphs - available in fine bookstores everywhere


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Concerning the photo of the anchor...I came-up with the same interpretation as 'FiveFingeredJack.' The anchor and climbing line appear to be the same, single rope. Hard to believe it would be a 'throw-away.' It could be an ascent anchor, but I doubt it. Normally you would use a different rope or cordelette to set an anchor. It is hard to make-out the type of knot in the photo, but the rope appears to be 'irretrievable' in a descent. With this in mind, it might have been set as a security line for use in a cave situation. The intent then, would be to climb back up to the anchor when the weather broke, retrieve the anchor, and then move on up the hill or descend using a more standard method.

Edited by The Hoy
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If you were carrying all that crap - you wouldn't be doing a NF route light and fast - ...


I used to live in OR and have climbed Hood dozens of times from all sides. Its a catch 22... safety is a matter of personal judgement that an experienced climber makes for every climb. For a hard but relatively short climb like this, light and fast is usually better than extra pounds of bivi gear (until its not). But if you are experienced at climbing hard routes, you make your own call and you are very conscious of the "until its not" possibility. These guys undoubtedly knew the risks and would resent the second guessing. Its hard for non-climbers to understand these concepts. I have lost fine climbing friends as have many (or most) serious climbers and it is very hard to accept that loss without understanding this central ethic of climbing.

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Fox news is doing a wrap right now with Gretta and the guy who's on the ground at Hood River airport. He's actually very good and has been involved in SAR matters before.


All searchers are off the mountain and all aircraft are on the ground. Meetings are going on now to gather all the info from the day and to plan tomorrows efforts.

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