Mt. Hood accident claims three lives

TIMBERLINE — Three climbers were killed Thursday on Mount Hood when their nine-member climbing party fell into a crevasse. Five hours later a military helicopter crashed and rolled seven times after attempting to extract an injured climber.

Despite dangerous rotor shards that hurtled toward rescuers, no one was killed in the crash. According to officials, 12 people were injured, including six on the helicopter.

It was the worst single incident on Mount Hood since seven students and two adults from Oregon Episcopal School froze to death in whiteout conditions on the mountain in 1986.

The initial accident happened around 9 a.m. as four teams of roped climbers made their way to the top of the 11,240-foot mountain. Six of the climbers were members of Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. When one member of a four-person team slipped, his team began to slide down the mountain and caused a chain reaction that sent nine climbers sliding 250 feet down the mountain into the bergschrund, a crevasse about 800 feet below the summit that opens each spring as the snow melts, growing up to 50 feet deep and 20 to 30 feet wide.

Hood River physician Jim Pennington was descending the mountain with his son and daughter and witnessed the initial accident. He described how climbers had little chance to avoid being knocked down after the first group slipped.

“They were just going too fast. It was a domino effect,” Pennington told The Oregonian in a May 31 report by Eric Mortenson and Stuart Tomlinson.

Pennington and Dr. Steve Boyer, a member of another climbing team, stayed to assist two paramedics who hooked up ropes and pulleys to rescue the climbers.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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