A rescue was underway Tuesday for a fallen climber and others stranded on Mount Hood in northern Oregon, authorities said.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that it was dealing with two groups of climbers, one group of four near the Hogsback area of the mountain, which has an injured person, and another climber who fell on Hogsback. Other climbers were rendering aid to that person, officials said.
The sheriff’s office said search and rescue crews were working “feverishly” to get to the climbers.
The climber fell 700 feet and was airlifted by an Oregon Guard helicopter, the sheriff’s office said on Twitter.
The Oregon Office of Emergency Management said that the injured climber was on the way up to the summit — which at 11,240 feet is the state’s tallest — without ropes and fell, NBC affiliate KGW in Portland reported.
Citing the sheriff’s office, the station said the climbers were stranded at the Hogsback area which is at an elevation of around 10,500 feet. The Oregon Army National Guard launched a Blackhawk helicopter to help, according to KGW.
Aerial video showed people on the mountain who appeared to be giving medical aid to someone else. A rescue helicopter was seen lowering people to the mountain shortly after 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET).
Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Jensen told reporters that the sheriff’s office was contacted at around 10:30 a.m. with a report of a fallen climber and search and rescue efforts were started. No one was with the fallen climber at the time but others traveled to him and rendered aid.
There is another group of four climbers stranded on Hogsback, Jensen said.
“We have made communications with them again, we have been told that they are safe,” he said. “They do have one person that is injured, it does not sound like they are life-threatening injuries. They have stated that they have food and water for a day.”
“However, the ascent and descent from that location they describe as severely hazardous with falling rock and falling ice,” Jensen said. “They have been asked to stay put, we are sending rescuers up there to assess the situation and get them out as safely as possible.”
There are another three to four climbers who are above them and are going through the hazardous conditions making their way down to Hogsback, he said.
Scott Lucas, head of search and rescue for the state emergency management agency, said that the man who fell couldn’t stop his fall and fell to the Hogsback area.
The route which is generally the one taken to the summit and is the most dangerous area on the mountain, Lucas said. He said that when people get hurt, “they generally slip trying to summit, and end up back in the Hogsback area,” which is what happened Tuesday.
The mountain, a dormant volcano, attracts more than 10,000 climbers a year but the normal climbing season is from April to mid-June, according to the U.S. Forest Service. There’s about one fatality on the mountain per year, according to the Forest Service.
Steve Rollins of Portland Mountain Rescue told KGW that Hogsback is the most popular climbing route on the mountain.
“Hogsback is a steep spine that goes from the crater of the volcano up toward the summit, approximately 800 feet in length,” Rollins told the station.
A climber Tuesday who turned back described conditions on the mountain as “terrible.”
“You had ice axes and crampons and you couldn’t get secure foot in your holds,” Wyatt Peck, 26, or Portland, told reporters, adding that there was a layer of ice on top of another layer and that made getting holds difficult. “If you were to slip and fall, you couldn’t dig your axe in and stop yourself,” he said.
“This is the worst climbing day I’ve experienced for sure, condition wise,” Peck said.
Mount Hood National Forest is east of Portland.
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