Mountain searchers trace radio signals


News staff writer

February 21, 2007

The search for three missing climbers on Mount Hood on Sunday almost seemed like a case of déjà vu — with one major exception.

Hood River and Clackamas county searchers were able to quickly triangulate the whereabouts of the stranded trio. Each of the climbers was wearing a radio beacon locator so that their position at the 7,300-foot elevation of White River Canyon could be pinpointed.

“The weather conditions were just miserable and these devices made all of the difference in the outcome of this search,” said Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler.

He said the massive hunt for three missing climbers in December during a similar winter storm ended in tragedy. Wampler believes the outcome might have been different if anyone in that party had been wearing the locator device. One man was found dead and the other two men are missing and presumed dead.

“We’ve had the receiver to pick up signals from the locator units since 1994. But we’ve never taken it out of the box before this weekend because no one wants to wear them,” said Wampler.

On Tuesday, he was headed to Salem to testify on legislation that would require climbers to wear the beacons at higher elevations. Wampler said outdoor groups are opposed to a mandate that they included the equipment in their gear — but he is all for it. He said not only is the life of the climber on the line, but so are the lives of volunteer searchers.

“I think there needs to be some tweaking done to update the technology — but I’m definitely a supporter,” he said.

Christine Redl, 26, Kate Hanlon, 34, and Matt Bryant, 34, fell several hundred feet off a ledge into the White River Canyon on Sunday. They were part of an eight-member climbing team from the Portland-metro area. Their companions were escorted to safety by members of Hood River County’s Crag Rats and Portland Mountain Rescue.

Wampler provided a snow cat and snowmobiles that cut the time in half to get the three climbers and “Velvet,” a Labrador that accompanied them, off the mountain on Monday afternoon.

Redl, who sustained a possible concussion, was listed in fair condition at Oregon Health & Science University on Tuesday morning. Hanlon and Bryant were treated for minor injuries and released.

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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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