A 16-year-old boy who was scaling a section of Mount Hood fell 500 feet down a head wall after losing grip of the the ice- and snow-covered mountain.
Gurbaz Singh, the teenager somehow survived the fall, but suffered a broken leg.
“A lot of things had to happen just right for him to come out of that with just a fractured leg,” Sgt. Marcus Mendoza, a public information officer with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said.
“The way it was described to me yesterday is that professional mountaineers know they cannot fall in that area because there’s no way to rescue yourself.”
A team of search-and-rescue coordinators hiked up to the injured climber, who was stranded at an elevation of about 10,500 feet, about four hours after.
Local TV stations live streamed the rescue, while the sheriff’s office tweeted updates.
The group started climbing early Monday, with Singh leading the pack. Then he slipped in the Pearly Gates area — a part of the ascent Mendoza said has been described as “almost like climbing up a chimney.” He tried to use his ax to end his fall but found he couldn’t.
When Singh finally came to a rest, his helmet was “essentially destroyed”. Yet he was mostly unscathed, except for his leg. Someone called 911, and the rescuers began the hours-long trek to his side.
At 11,240 feet, Mount Hood is the highest summit in Oregon and the most-visited snow-covered peak in the nation, according to the U.S. Forest Service. About 10,000 people attempt to ascend it each year. But the mountain can be dangerous: Since 1883, at least 126 people have died while climbing it.
The most recent fatality happened in February 2018. Miha Sumi, a 35-year-old Portland resident, was descending from the summit with three other climbers when he slipped and fell about 1,000 feet. Another climber called 911 after following a trail of blood to the injured climber. Sumi was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Despite the deaths Mount Hood has remained a popular climbing destination. Though it does not rank among the country’s highest peaks, the mountain’s proximity to Portland and the city’s airport makes it accessible to those with climbing dreams.