Three Climbers Lost on Mt. Hood

by Bob Freund

Mission Report 92-02
Member Hours: 419, Miles: 3,037

CMRU was put on Stand-by and then activated for a search for three adult climbers lost from a party of six while descending the South side of Mt. Hood. The three lost subjects became separated from the others at about the 9500' level in the vicinity of Whiteriver Glacier headwall when clouds blew in and reduced visibility. The lost subjects apparently moved west and crossed above the Palmer Chair Lift before dropping to Mississippi Head. They spent the first night (Saturday) in this area. On Sunday, the weather was still poor and they moved north toward the bottom of Reid Glacier and finally dropped into timber where they spent the second night (Sunday) in a fairly comfortable camp.
CMRU arrived Sunday at 1045 with nine members and was deployed at 1230 via snowcat to the top of the Palmer Chair (8800') with instructions to go to 9500' and search the West flank of Whiteriver Glacier. We were arrayed as three roped teams of three with 30-50' spacing. Visibility was less than 200' the whole time with below freezing temperatures and 30K winds gusting to near 60K at times. Rime buildup was moderate. We searched down to 8400' looking for evidence of a snow cave having been dug and checking crevasses. At 1730 we started back to Timberline Lodge and were met at Silcox Hut by a Timberline Cat. We returned to Base at 1945. During this search Ken Parton sustained a minor bruise to his knee when it struck an ice chunk while he was crossing a crevasse.
Jeremy and Maryanne had been assigned separate duty at Sandy Guard Cabin, and as a result of this location, Jeremy was first to make contact with the lost subjects on Monday morning.
On Monday, 5/11/92, nine remaining CMRU members were assigned to search two divisions which encompassed the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area. We arrived at the Meadows' parking lot about 1030 and were given a snow cat ride to the top of our search area (~8000'). At about 1145, radio traffic was heard which indicated the lost subjects may have been located near Paradise Park; but we never received a confirmation of that from Base, nor were teams directed to discontinue the search and return to Base. After about an hour of confused radio traffic, we asked if we were to return to Base.

Participants: Jeremy Adolf, Dale Blackburn, Bill Ellison, Bob Freund, Hollis Ferguson, Anne Greenwood, Mardi Keltner, Susan Leach, Wayne Lederer, Scott Linn, Nancy Olson, Ken Parton, Alan Perry, Maryanne Reiter, Jim Ruef, Jon Sears, Rick Thompson

Photo by Jon Sears