Three safe after rescue

Six agencies search White River Canyon on Mount Hood

MEDIA-types mob Mark Kelsey of Portland, center, one of the three people rescued on Dec. 23 in the White River area of Mount Hood. Rescuers pack up in the foreground.

Hood River Ciounty Sheriff photo
MEDIA-types mob Mark Kelsey of Portland, center, one of the three people rescued on Dec. 23 in the White River area of Mount Hood. Rescuers pack up in the foreground.

A trio of backcountry enthusiasts, attempting an overnight snowshoe trip into the White River Canyon area of Mount Hood, was ultimately rescued on Dec. 24 after becoming lost in heavy snowfall conditions and dense fog on Dec. 23.

A veteran mountain guide and outdoor survival instructor, Mark Kelsey, 62, of Portland, and two trail mates, Margarita Estrada, 49, of Milwaukee; and Debra Shindler, 58, of West Linn, made a 9-1-1 cellphone call Dec. 23 reporting distress. The group had planned to spend the night at a rustic cabin on the mountain but became lost during near white out snow conditions.

While Hood River County Sheriff coordinated a multi-agency search and rescue mission beginning Dec. 23 after receiving the group’s one successful call, the trio set about creating a makeshift shelter to spend the night in the snow. Kelsey, a former member of Portland Mountain Rescue, had extensive survival training with which to assist the group.

According to Kelsey, who was interviewed after the rescue, the group “located a sizeable tree well ... laid tree branches on the ground and then branches around the perimeter ... creating a teepee-like structure.” With continued snowfall piling up rapidly on the shelter, the three were able to stay inside the now insulated space. They had sleeping bags, food and water as they waited for nightfall.

That same afternoon about 20 rescuers using skis and two snow cats were checking areas on the north and south sides of the White River drainage, near Barlow Road, said Hood River County Sheriff-elect Matt English.

Hood River County Sheriff personnel were assisted by Crag Rats and Clackamas County rescue teams along with Mountain Wave Emergency Communications, American Medical Response and Portland Mountain Rescue during the search and rescue operations.

With darkness descending and weather conditions worsening on Dec. 23, search efforts were suspended in the late afternoon.

Early morning on Dec. 24 a new rescue effort began and the lost party was then spotted around 11 a.m. by members of Crag Rats and Portland Mountain Rescue about three miles from the White River West Sno-Park, down the White River canyon.

With assistance, the three arrived to safety at the White River West Sno-Park and were being welcomed back by their family members around 3 p.m.

According to Deputy Chris Guertin, one of three incident commanders for HRCSO, no one in the group was injured. Sheriff-elect English and Deputy Mike Anderson also served as incident commanders during the two-day effort.

Latest stories

Latest video:

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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



Log in to comment

Columbia Gorge news and businesses