MOUNT HOOD NATIONAL FOREST, Ore. (WKBN) – Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR) crews were training on Mount Hood this weekend when they suddenly had to jump into action for real after three hikers fell.
Two climbers catapulted down the side of Mount Hood, near the Hogsback, barely missing mountain rescuer Erik Broms.
They landed 500 feet down the mountain, close to where the rest of Broms’ team was climbing as part of Portland Mountain Rescue training.
Portland Mountain rescuer Mark Morford got to them first.
“Just having people there that knew how to attend to them was big,” said Portland Mountain rescuer Mark Morford.
The woman suffered two broken ankles. The man who fell with her suffered a broken leg.
Both they and their rescuers were still in danger even after they fell as ice and rocks continued to fall around them.
“There was a lot of ice fall and lot of rock fall. We’ve got two patients there, and we’ve got rescuers trying to attend to them with cantaloupes and bowling balls of ice falling down,” Morford said.
As they helped the patients, 20 other climbers formed a human wall, using their backpacks to protect them from that falling ice.
“That easily could have saved the lives of the patients we had there or our rescuers. It was really huge,” Morford said.
But it was only their first challenge.
“All of a sudden, somebody yelled, falling again and there was another climber on his way down. This guy ended up going off kind of a lip, and ended up going near a fumerole, which is a hole or a steam vent,” Broms said.
PMR pulled him out and that climber was able to walk off the mountain. The other two and their rescuers, stuck in the snow for hours.
A National Guard helicopter brought them to safety. It was a hard fall and a hard lesson on a treacherous stretch.
“Never underestimate mount hood,” Morford said.