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Missing on Hood


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funny, that's exactly where ken and i were, and the same type of weather we encountered, on our trip back in november - having experience on the route and an taun-taun and a :pagetop: (no map or gps - i had a compass and a bearing back to camp but never used it) was sufficient to top out and get back down w/o incident


i pretty sure ken would have killed me if we had ended up in a snow cave that night :)





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Which Ken was that?

wallawalla ken aka 112 on da board here


not really trying to knock the 2 guys who've gotten so much attention lately - i imagine they weren't real familiar w/ the upper mtn and having no altimeter or gps you're pretty much totally fucked on descent in a whiteout so they did the most logical thing and went down - for ken and i, the ice in the hourglass was probably much harder then than now and a scarey thing to down-climb for a newb, and i figured it would be easiest and most strait-forward to top out and return to camp from there - i'm happy to be on the good side of the comparision, as it's damned rare :P

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Yeah it is, great artwork there! Someone has some massive mad photoshop skillz. My palms are still sweating from remembering Ivans earlier TR up there. Nice to see what it actually did look like, cause in my minds eye, I didn't think Ken would be smiling...at all, but he looks just like I remember him when he climbed up to my belay ledge last fall at Beacon.


BTW, don't ya gotta have some sympathy for those off course dudes. Anytime you cannot see your feet cause the weather is so thick and the wind is hitting you hard on 90 degrees sideways accompanied with thick snow, maps are useless and direct bearing via a compass lacks accuracy as you get blown off course while still making what you think is spot on the money direction of your heading.


Reliance on Taun Tauns, if you have one, of course, would be the logical first option of course. Maybe a GPS the second? I still don't own one but am looking right now. Some GPS's do not have compass's, and rely on figuring your direction of travel to get a bearing and give you a direction, which would suck for some situations I suppose - like falling off White river canyon, digging in in a whiteout, then having to actually walk for a while, stiff, numb wet and half frozen after crawling out of your cave the next day - possibly off course in deep-assed snow, to determine your course?


Ya gotta wonder given the conditions, if they maybe lucked out in not getting swept down that slope in an avalanche.

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Hi guys. My name is Matt Pitts and I was one of the guys you heard about on Hood the other day. One of the reporters we talked to said that he was a climber and that we should check out this site, and that you had been following what was going on and wishing us well. First and foremost I want to thank everyone for that. It meant alot to us when we heard that. That said, I feel like we need to clarify a few details about what happened as the media has been consistently inacurrate with the information they have been disemminating. I've never been to this site before so forgive me if I'm posting this in the wrong format or spot.

Anyway, Justin and I had been looking at Leuthold's for a couple of weeks and thought it would be a good one to tick off together. He had already done the standard south side route and I had done Sandy headwall a few years back. Anyway, weather looked good for a Monday summit bid so I got the day off and we went for it. We checked 2 different weather sites the day before (including the Forestry dept.'s site for Hood) and both indicated partly cloudy conditions in the morning and partly sunny later in the day, with freezing temps at 8000 feet. We couldn't ask for better. We checked again before we left at 3am on Monday and nothing had changed, so up we went.

We knew Leuthold's was a notorious debris shoot so our strategy was to travel fast and light. The less time we spent in there, the better. Despite what some have said, we brought with us a map, altimeter and compass and had thoroughly researched the route. As I had told the reporters, a GPS would have been nice, but neither of us had been able to find an affordable one that didn't die in cold weather. But with Justin's orienteering experience as a forester and our general knowledge of the mountain, we had no reason to think that wouldn't be enough.

Long story short, we hit the snow around 5:30 ish and were probably into the couloir around 9. I guess around that time, Justin's girlfriend texted him to let us know that the weather report had changed on the forestry site. By then his phone had no reception, and my piece of shit had died from the cold. we were aware of the general avalanche warnings on Hood as well, but the snow on the west side seemed well packed from the wind and proved to be no problem. We saw clouds in the distance as we were clearing the hourglass, which drew our concern, but the weather report had called for some clouds, so we kept going with a wary eye on them.

The storm hit us at about 10, when we were at about 10,200 of elevation. They were complete white out conditions with about 75 mph winds. Weighing our options, we decided to back off rather than summiting and coming down the south side, as the summit ridge in those conditions would be impossible to traverse. So back we went, heading for the saddle. Unfortunately, the storm had brought in a big change in barometric pressure, which threw off the altimeter, and we were unable to find the saddle. However, we did eventually find another gap in the ridge there and we able to pop over to the south side. It was damn slow going though.

We decended on a SE bearing intending to avoid Zigzag canyon and hoping to hit the lodge. At 6000 ft we knew we had missed it and our next logical course of action was to head due south until we hit rt 26 and hitch-hike back to the truck. We had told our girlfriends that we expected to be back down at Timberline lodge by 3 or 4 and we were running late. At 9pm Justin's girlfriend called up to see if we had checked out, assuming that we were just getting hammered in Govt. Camp and didn't bother to call her. Apparently she spoke to someone from ski patrol who found our car in the lot and told her to call the Sheriff's dept. She actually refused to do so, saying it was too early to call it in until the next day. The call to the sheriff was actually made by ski patrol, not by either of our girlfriends, and they both repeatedly asked them to not go ahead with rescue operations that quickly. (although mine is still down for that spanking someone suggested :)

Anyhoo, we post-holed down to about 5000 ft where we decided to dig out a cave and rest up a little (about 11 pm). We were back up at 5am and kept shooting for a Southerly bearing. With a little visibility we figured we were in the Little Zig Zag or Sand drainage area and were on our way out. At about 8:30 my phone sprang back to life and Justin's girlfriend was on the line. That was the first we heard about anyone looking for us. We had assumed that they might start looking in the morning, but we had moved so far away from our scheduled descent that there was no way they were going to find us, particularly in the trees. So, about 1/2 an hour later of slogging through snow we came accross a nalgene hanging from a tree with flagging around it and turns out it was a geocache. Right after we opened it up, the sheriff called me and we were able to give him exact coordinates. When I gave him our location, I asked him to look at a map and just give us a bearing and we could hump it out. We were right around 3000 ft, so we knew we were close. He insisted we stay put though, and PMR was there in about 45 minutes with tea and candy. Turns out we were about 2/5 of a mile from a trail head when we were "rescued", right near Ski Bowl. That said, I have nothing but gratitude and respect for all of the rescue people involved, including PMR and the Sheriff's dept., they do amazing work. But we would much rather have walked the extra 45 minutes and gotten out of our own volition. Anyway, after PMR showed up, they gave us some snow shoes and we were back at the trailhead in about 10 minutes where the reporters were waiting to take those rediculous pictures of us coming out of the woods.

Anyway, I hope that clears things up a bit for anyone that might care. I've read some people's posts about personal responsibility on the mountain and I could not agree more. We both believe that nobody got us into that situation but ourselves. Nor did we think that someone was going to fix things for us when they got bad. At no point during those 36 hours did we plan for, or count on being picked up off the mountain by rescue teams. There is inherent danger in climbing and a climber's job is to reduce that risk to acceptable levels. We were both confident in our abilities to get up and down the mountain alive, and though I certainly admit that we could have done it in better style, ultimately we did.

This post ended up alot longer than I planned on, so I apologise for that. Again, I'm not sure if I posted this in the right place, so by all means repost it to somewhere people might see it.

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Actually, we had an issue with the registration as well. I guess the night we were up there, someone from ski patrol was thumbing through the forms and dropped ours. It was blown away in the wind (of all things) and they rewrote our form from memory, checking every equipment box on the form including tent, stove and sleeping bag, which we did not have. Probably part of the reason they were looking in the wrong spot at first.

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One of the reporters we talked to said that he was a climber and that we should check out this site, and that you had been following what was going on and wishing us well.


Yeah, dude, I said that before everyone started blasting you. Bad Karma. Nice to meet you guys. Glad you're OK!


:brew: :brew:


See you on the mountain.

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Thanks for the first-hand report, Pitts. Most of us are infinitely curious about the details of these types of things as we hope to learn from others' experiences. Also, as climbers we tend to look for ways to seperate ourselves from those who encounter misfortune in the hills. We try to convince ourselves that subjects of SAR events are "dumbasses" because it makes us feel safer. Like it couldn't happen to us because we're not dumbasses.


Thanks again for posting your story. It's a real treat to get the details first-hand. After spending the morning trying to figure out the puzzle, it's great to hear the real story and fill in the gaps. Bummer your climb went sour but I'm sure victory beers tasted sweet.



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glad you guys made it back, and thanks for the first-hand account of what happened. it is curious to compare pitts account to the latest version printed in the oregonian.




it: who called the sheriff and why.

it: the role played by the geocache.


looks like quintus slide got it wrong, again.


no matter, we all learned something, and we're all glad you made it home.

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Mr. Pitts,


I will echo the recent others here - nice work on the almost self-rescue, and thanks for clearing up the details.


On a lighter note, here's a bit of rescue "humor" with, IMHO, the all-time greatest rescue quote ever:


"A rescue is unwarranted, unwanted and will not be accepted."


- Johngo


from: http://www.yosemite.org/newsroom/clips2002/march/031002.htm


In 1970, Warren Harding and partner Dean Caldwell (my note - a Portlander!) were involved in another climb of El Capitan that turned into a spectacle. They started up an unclimbed route they called the Wall of the Early Morning Light (now called the Dawn Wall) on Oct. 23, 1970, and spent 27 days without coming down.


At one point, Mr. Harding fell 50 feet but dusted himself off and kept climbing. Storms hit them; during one stretch in early November, they spent 107 hours straight huddled inside their covered hammocks, soaked and shivering.


The food began to run out.


The National Park Service decided a rescue was in order and began helicoptering ropes, supplies and potential rescuers to the summit. Mr. Harding scribbled a note in an empty tuna can and tossed it down: "A rescue is unwarranted, unwanted and will not be accepted."


In his book, "Downward Bound," Mr. Harding fantasized about what would have happened if the rescuers had rappelled down to them:


"If these rescuers had been overzealous and insisted on taking us with them, the consequences would have been too bizarre even to think about: a wild fight with piton hammers and wine and brandy bottles," he wrote.


Edited by JohnGo
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