Oregon has been in the news a lot the last month as a place where you can die alone in the snow. In Portland you’re more likely to get a little chilly in the rain and then go inside for a drink, but we have Big Mountains in the middle of the state, and Little Mountains to the sides. Portland misses the worst weather by being in the wet valley in between.
Given the amount of finger pointing I saw when the Kim family went missing (over the highway maps, the unlocked gate on the road, signs that suggest the road they were on was a legitimate scenic route, etc), I can’t figure out why the news reports on the three lost climbers this last week haven’t bothered to mention that Mt. Hood can be dangerous year-round, and deciding to climb the most difficult route in December with minimal gear and no emergency locater beacon is the kind of stupid plan that just begs for something to go wrong.
Even experienced climbers get turned back due to weather, even in the summer. The forest service has radio beacons available for climbers because people get stuck and lost up there every single year. It makes me angry to hear that search and rescue teams are out there risking their own safety to look for people who should have known better.
Here’s what the national forest service site has to say about climbing Mt. Hood in fall or winter (and this info is for the south route, the safer/easier one).
It is not the wisest time of year to climb unless you have exceptional mountaineer and climbing skills. I want to emphasize this because the mountain has yet again witnessed another rescue incident that could of totally been avoided. Mt. Hood is a technical mountain not to be taken lightly. Proper equipment is necessary to ensure your safety for example like a HELMET, CRAMPONS and ICE AXE to name a few.
It is unfortunate that Mt. Hood continues to get dismissed as an easy climb. To be honest it can be considered easy but for someone with proficient mountain skills and has several years of experience. But to someone with out any idea what they are getting into could be a serious undertaking. So be cautious and exercise good judgment. The mountain is always changing so you still need to be aware of the rock fall, crevasses, avalanches, lighting, wind, ice ect.
That the climbers are from Texas and New York fuels my suspicion that people from other parts of the country have no idea what the environment is really like out here. Yes, it rains, but it also snows, freezes over, floods, etc, and the wilderness is beautiful but hazardous. I love it out here, and I wish everyone would show a little more respect.