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EricW

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061213/ap_on_...issing_climbers

I have no idea why, but I picked my copy of The White Spider and re-read it for the first time in a long while. That got me to thinking about the climbing accident I was in on Mt. Hood over six years ago. As one of the charter members of the Reported Dead on Mt. Hood Club, this was a little painful to read today.

I hate that I'm in El Paso right now. Otherwise, I'd probably head up the hill with an avalance probe. Winter storms on Hood are wicked mo' fo's. You'd have to experience it to understand. It's an extremely wet cold with hurricane force winds at elevation.

I hope they're OK. Dying on the mountain isn't such a horrible fate, but freezing to death sure as hell is.

:(

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Any rough idea of where they are on the mountain and what went wrong? I climbed it about 9 years ago. I always wanted to do a winter ascent. Man, I hope they make it. My prayers go out to them and their family.

edit: I just read the part about the north-east side. NOT where I'd like to be right now. Hang in there guys..

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They found a note that the guys left behind before the trip that stated they had a stove, fuel, bivy sacks, and all the right gear so there could a chance that they'll make it.

If somebody handed me that equipment list and told me, "go climb Mt. Hood from the one of the harder sides, dig in, and live there for over a week" I'd shove the bivy sack so far up their ass that they'd choke on it. Then I'd use the stove to light them on fire.

Unless you've been up there in the winter during a storm (I have), you have no idea just how bad it is. I'm not saying this to put you or anyone down, but I was watching the news with a friend tonight and they kept talking about "how someone in a snow cave could probably hold out" for the 10 days or whatever its been.

Bullshit.

I've dug snow caves and lived in them. I've climbed the three large volcanic peaks in the Portland area. I've tried to keep warm in a bivy sack on south side of Hood, in the sun, in May for just a couple of hours. (It wasn't worth a shit.)

All I can say is that the "experts" need to get out of the Lazy Boy more often.

Mt. Hood is a very tame place during the summer. During the winter the Columbia Gorge winds make it a pretty inhospitable locale. What's particularly bizarre is that there is a hut/cabin located at just over 8,000 feet on the *south* side of the mountain (the climbers apparently went up the Cooper Spur route which is on the NE side). It's open 24/7. It's heated. And there is generally even food laying around. I can't even imagine why you'd dig in at the summit versus traversing over and walking down to it. Short of a compound fracture, you evacuate that mountain. There's no reason not to.

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All I can say is that the "experts" need to get out of the Lazy Boy more often.

I don't think we're hearing from the experts, they're on the mountain trying to find these guys and not chatting with CNN. Not that you didn't already know that, I'm just commenting on the media BS blizzard that's covering the airwaves.

Short of a compound fracture, you evacuate that mountain. There's no reason not to.

One of the guys is hurt, the other 2 went for help. I don't know how bad the guy was hurt, but I'd have to seriously out of action to weather any storm on the north face of any mountain.

My friends all want to come to Idaho to hunt with me and I don't think the "get it". Hunting back east isn't much of a commitment. In the west, you're part of the food chain and weather can kill you as easily as the critters. I hope the plight of these climbers and Kim family story helps saves some lives in the future.

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Unless you've been up there in the winter during a storm (I have), you have no idea just how bad it is. I'm not saying this to put you or anyone down, but I was watching the news with a friend tonight and they kept talking about "how someone in a snow cave could probably hold out" for the 10 days or whatever its been.

Bullshit.

Amen, been there done that. Almost died 200 feet off the top of a summit after summiting. Getting caught in a winter storm is serious stuff, cave or not, it isn't pretty.

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All I can say is that the "experts" need to get out of the Lazy Boy more often.

I don't think we're hearing from the experts, they're on the mountain trying to find these guys and not chatting with CNN. Not that you didn't already know that, I'm just commenting on the media BS blizzard that's covering the airwaves.

Short of a compound fracture, you evacuate that mountain. There's no reason not to.

I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt firsthand. I've had the media in my face. I've had LE "Eat Donuts and Schmooze with the Media" ... er ... "Search and Rescue" in my face. They can all burn in hell for all I care. Any passerby is a "credible expert." Literally. I'm not even making this up. People that weren't within 2 miles of our incident were "eyewitness." Not a discernable fact ever drooled out of their mouths in front of the camera.

It's also worth noting that virtually no real climber will talk to a reporter. I'm proud to say that I kept to the code of silence. I'm also extremely proud that everyone that was actually on the mountain with us refused to talk to the media as well. My friends are more than pieces of meat to feed the audience for the six o'clock blood and guts teaser.

I'm sad that Mt. Hood has taken three lives. It's all part of the cycle. She gives us beauty, challenge, adventure, and joy. Sometimes she kills us to make sure we appreciate our smallness and frailty. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

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The weather forecasts are usually ok, it's the other variables that you can't factor in. I had a co-worker who lost a son and husband in July one year on the mountain. They got sucked in to the awesome sunrise, hung out on top for too long and when they started to come down, they fell and couldn't arrest in the slurpie like conditions of the south side in the afternoon. The time I climbed it, I couldn't believe the risks some people were taking without even realizing it.

All I can figure is something really bad must have happened and they got pinned down. I wouldn't want to dig in anywhere, anytime with any amount of gear up there.

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It's all part of the cycle. She gives us beauty, challenge, adventure, and joy. Sometimes she kills us to make sure we appreciate our smallness and frailty. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

I agree 100%. Besides climbing, I also sail. This week a crew was lost off the PNW coast. Things like this always serve to remind me just how small I am in the world.

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EricW...how predictable is the weather on the mountain? By that I mean, forecasts.

My prayers with the families.

It's really about as predictable as you can see storms coming in on the horizon. The weather in the Cascades is like most mountain weather: highly variable depending on what cloud is floating over at the time. And that's the danger. You can go from beautiful blue skies to a total whiteout in 15 minutes. Even in June/July.

I treated climbing like I was going to be flying IFR. I always had my routes planned before I ever left the house. I would dial in my retreat route into my compass prior to beginning a climb. The deal is that if you miss your descent route by as little as 10 degrees, it can be the difference between hitting civillization and walking into no man's land for days. The geometry of the mountain greatly exaggerates the consequences of minor navigational errors. The two other climbers could very well have made it off the mountain to the south, but if they didn't have their retreat route dialed in, they could have missed Timberline Lodge and never even had a clue.

If you've ever flown IFR, the sensation of climbing/descending in a whiteout is extremely similar. There's this almost irrepressible desire to drift. You just "know" that your destination is "that way." You're almost invariably wrong. The exact same mental discipline you need in order to believe your instruments in the cockpit is what you have to apply to believing your compass. Add a blizzard, exhaustion, anxiety and fear and things can get interesting in a hurry.

(I can't wait to lose the remaining 50 pounds of lard off my butt so I can get back to climbing again.)

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(I can't wait to lose the remaining 50 pounds of lard off my butt so I can get back to climbing again.)

+1, sounds like we need to hook up and start motivating each other. I need to lose about 40lbs before I take a shot at Rainier.

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(I can't wait to lose the remaining 50 pounds of lard off my butt so I can get back to climbing again.)

+1, sounds like we need to hook up and start motivating each other. I need to lose about 40lbs before I take a shot at Rainier.

Sounds like a plan. The blubber's got to go before I do too many descents. I'm shooting for 185. Three/four more months of rabbit food to go....

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(I can't wait to lose the remaining 50 pounds of lard off my butt so I can get back to climbing again.)

+1, sounds like we need to hook up and start motivating each other. I need to lose about 40lbs before I take a shot at Rainier.

Sounds like a plan. The blubber's got to go before I do too many descents. I'm shooting for 185. Three/four more months of rabbit food to go....

Carrots, Yum!

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