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Mt Hood - SAR reports


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This thread is only for updates from people involved in the current search on Mt. Hood to provide information updates as they become available. No questions, speculations, or discussion please.


Note: we're working on getting a synopsis and starting point drafted and posted here, thanks for your patience.

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Iain......What elevation is that picture taken from? How far is it from where it says Snow anchor/small cave to the bottom of the NF Gully?




I've no idea about the elev., it was from a helicopter, but probably about 9000ft. As for the distance from top to bottom, maybe a little over 2000ft?

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No offense intended all, but this is a bare bones information only thread, so I've deleted comments, compliments and well wishes. Feel free to comment in another thread elsewhere on this board, or send your appreciation or condolences via Personal Message to the individuals involved. We're winding down coverage and focus on what is now officially a lower intensity body recovery operation.



Off White - Cascadeclimbers Moderator

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The Pearly Gates are on the south side of the mountain. It would probably have been brutal to look down into them on the day they topped out, and would be intimidating since they have not been down them before and there is currently a significant 15ft step to deal with.

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Yes, for those interested in the south side, it is currently in pretty advanced shape. It is not the beginner's climb that it normally is in the spring. That said, it is fun right now with great sticks through the length of the chute, which is pretty steep. This storm may change its condition. As I said there is a 15ft rime-featured step at the gates. Hoodie's photos show this stuff, including the floating school bus that gutted the chute (and almost us) with its rotor wash.


I'm assuming they will reopen the mountain if they have not already. Just remember to keep some good stock photos of yourself available for the news if you go missing. This would be one of the weekends to not get lost/injured on the mountain.

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This seems as good as any place for this. Hope some find it helpful:


Questions continue to be asked about the Mount Hood Locator Unit (MLU) after every search like this last one. Some of the media somehow still confuse them with PLBs and cellphones, and I have been asked to outline the program, so this is just to reiterate what the MLU does.




REI, OMC, and the Mountain Shop all "rent" MLU transmitters to climbers. They are also available 24 hrs a day at the Mount Hood Inn at Government Camp. The rental shops test each transmitter in front of the climber renting it. Records are kept on battery life. A $5 rental fee covers the expense of this.




The MLU program began back in 1986 in the wake of one of Mt Hood's largest tragedies, where a large group from the Oregon Episcopal School became trapped near White River Canyon, resulting in 9 deaths. It took three days to find the unmarked, buried snow cave, and by then it was too late for 7 of the kids and 2 adults.


The Mountain Signal Committee built and tested the technology, then went through the Oregon legislature to get enabling legislation to use the system. Currently the USFS and Clackamas County Sheriff control the system.


The MLU Transmitter-


MLUs are small VHF transmitters attached to a sash. When the "ripcord" is pulled and the MLU activated, it sends out a tone at 168.54 mHz. These transmitters are not monitored full-time. Once a rescue is initiated, PMR will do an initial sweep of the mountain for an MLU signal. There is a check box to say you are carrying one on the sign-in sheets at Timberline, but frequently PMR will do a scan just in case you forgot to check the box, or if you didn't register.


The MLU system is essentially a wildlife tracking system. During testing, MLU transmitters have been picked up 20 miles away. Transmitters deep in crevasses or under many feet of snow have been easily detected. However, line-of-sight rules apply. PMR can't find a signal on the opposite side of the mountain, behind a ridge, or deep in a canyon. The signal will also "bounce" off wet rock walls, making it confusing for the searcher at times.


Should you use one?


There is no doubt the MLU takes the "search" out of search and rescue. It has been used successfully in several winter operations on Mt. Hood. The technology, now 20 years old, still works well. It is not perfect, but it remains a powerful tool for PMR.


Carrying an MLU does not guarantee a rescue. Sometimes accessing your location is impossible due to weather, avalanche, rockfall, etc. However, it does allow all energy to be focused on accessing your location and getting you out of there, rather than trying to find you first, which as you have seen can take days.


Many climbers feel it is inappropriate to take technology along that replaces self-sufficiency. Many climbers do not bring cellphones with them for this reason. This is an understandable personal choice climbers make. Climbing is often viewed as an opportunity to escape society. This message is simply to let people know the MLU still does its job well, and if you wish to rent one, it is available as a tool for you to use, and will be used to find you if you get in trouble on Mt. Hood.

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I do not mean to be either impertinent or irreverent about the deceased and the missing. I am respectful of what they accomplished in their lives, and of what you other climbers have related of your expertise as well.


We guys here in Dallas who know/ knew Brian Hall do not climb (but wish we had the necessary skills) are trying to understand what happened up there on the NF of Hood.

What is the general consensus among SAR and the non- rescue experienced climbers about how the 3 men got separated and what went wrong to cause the climb to end so tragically?

Is it weather only, since Mr. James autopsy disclosed no pre-existing injury or illness before hypothermia claimed him? I know the storm was a very big contributor, of course, but these men were used to climbing in all conditions.

An unknown variable such as loss of gear or a different type of accident?


I know it doesn't bring them back, but we could accept our friend's presumed demise better if we understood what caused things to go so wrong.


Thank you. I know this is not a SAR report, but I am not a troll and didn't want to ask in an area where no one from the forum is participating.

I respect the regular members of this forum very much and wish you many years of happy mountaineering. I will be reading about your climbs here from now on. You have touched many lives through the telling of your own stories. Many of us have read quite a bit throughout CC.com.


Play hard!!!


Dallas, TX

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Can someone tell me if there are many women involved in the SAR effort or on SAR teams in general? And if so, what are the most likely roles played by women on any of the teams?


There are women involved in SAR, and they fill all roles. The gender imbalances of the past are slowly fading, and as more women get into climbing and the outdoors, more will volunteer for SAR. The highest percentage of women in SAR units I've seen are horse and dog units. Mountain Rescue has women who are solid climbers and can haul 50lb packs. When in the field I don't think about man or woman. I think that I can trust this person in being safe and getting the job done.


Also, if you remember the Cindy Wysocki incident from a month ago, Sgt. Sidney Jackson jumped out of the helicopter to get to her. She rocks!



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Can someone tell me if there are many women involved in the SAR effort or on SAR teams in general? And if so, what are the most likely roles played by women on any of the teams?


"The highest percentage of women in SAR units I've seen are horse and dog units."


Hey, I resemble that remark! Thanks for your response and I got a good laugh out of that sentence. Hope you don't mind my pulling your chain.


Happy Holidays and thanks to all the SAR teams and all they do.

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Forgive the double post but i brought this over from the old treead in case folks misssed it.


A few comments on SAR and how we plan a search may help some folk.

ONE method is to use POA (probability of Area ) and POD (probability of Detection). After looking at all the available facts, the search area is divided into sections. Each section is given a POA priority ie the highest priority section is searched first etc. Each team going into the field has to ask/answer questions like,

what is the percent chance that i can see/hear the missing person?

what is the percent chance that the missing person can see/hear me?

what is the percent chance that the person is consious/unconsious?

what is the percent chance that the person would be moving if s/he could.?


All these effect the probability of detection. If its cold and you are injured, you might be holed up in a tree well and so the POD is low and lower yet if you are unconsious. Please if this happenes to you. Mark the nearest Tress or Rock with some marker.

OK so when you get back to SAR base and report in, all this info is takedn down. A POA of 1 with a POD of 50% means another team will go search the same area to try to bring up the POD to a number where we can say we think s/he is not there. At any time the Sheriff can look at the map and see POA and POD as each day developes. POA's are also subject to change as more data becomes available.....hope this is clear.



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Texan - your need for more info about your friend is very understandable. I think the only facts to be relayed publically right now are:


1. Mt. Hood in winter is an unforgiving place. Small problems can become life-threatening. Good turns to very bad quickly.


2. Based only on what was found, they made a choice (perhaps unknowingly) to keep moving or start dying.


3. Previous experience on this mountain would be helpful.


4. Climbing is dangerous. Sometimes you just get nailed.

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Cross posted from one of the other threads (mods - delete if it doesn't jive with how you are managing the threads)....


While many have been following this story for its human drama, some have expressed interest in SAR and how to contribute or get involved.


SAR and Mountain Rescue in particular have long histories and proud traditions. The teams (PMR, CMRU, Crag Rats, and EMRU) you've seen in action are outstanding examples of the units that exist in many areas.


You may be surprised to find an MRA-qualified unit near you.


MRA Regions and Units


Contact your local team(s) to see how you can help. If you don't see a team in your area, contact the local Sheriff or emergency services agency and ask about SAR. Public support and dedicated volunteers keep these teams alive and ready when the call for help comes.


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The point of this thread is to provide a location to compile reports FROM the SAR people.


Due to inability of people to understand this point, and continuing to ask pointless, irrelevant, and unanswerable questions that many find offensive in their intrusiveness, I am locking this thread. If you wish to post to this thread, PM Off White, gapertimmay or myself for access.


As has been stated a number of times, the SAR report will be posted here when it is ready. Discussion may be appropriate afterwards, not before.


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