Climber’s death on popular Oregon peak underscores dangers

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. — Oregon’s tallest peak rises above the streets of downtown Portland, its gorgeous snow-capped slopes luring 10,000 climbers a year.

The picture postcard view of Mount Hood makes it one of the most visited snow-capped peaks in America, a destination to check off during any respectable visit to the City of Roses.

“It just stands there and calls to you — and during clear weather like we’ve had the past couple of days, that mountain is there calling to anyone who’s ever thought about climbing it,” said Mark Morford, spokesman for Portland Mountain Rescue.

But Mount Hood’s accessibility and beauty also obscure a treacherous history that once again came into focus Tuesday, when one man plummeted 1,000 (305 meters) feet to his death while summiting and three more were stranded thousands of feet up its icy slopes as a storm approached.

More than 130 climbers have died trying to reach the top of the dormant volcano, including an entire party of school children and their teachers who froze to death in 1986 while awaiting rescue and several climbers whose bodies have never been found.

Compounding the difficulty of the rescue Tuesday was the fact that for at least several hours, officials weren’t sure exactly how many people remained on Mount Hood. At one point, they said they could be looking for anywhere between seven and 15 people.

That’s because — unlike on some other iconic peaks in the West and Alaska — there is no registration requirement to scale Mount Hood and no one monitors the skill level or preparedness of those attempting an ascent. There is also no limit on how many can summit the 11,240-foot (3,429-meter) mountain each day.

That honor system and the peak’s proximity to a major city can combine for a chaotic climbing environment on a mountain that seems …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

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