Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
One climber was found deceased on Saturday. Results of the autopsy announced today state that while he did fall, he actually suffered relatively minor injuries from the fall and died of hypothermia afterwards. Speculation is that the other two may have had an accident farther up and that the deceased climber was on the way down to get help. Portland Mountain Rescue thinks the other two may be holed up in a snow cave up there. The weather was excellent when they went up and stayed excellent during the time they would normally have been out (they planned to be back by 2 pm Friday). However, starting Saturday the weather has deteriorated. Avalanche danger up there is now extreme due to new snow on top of icy layers. Another foot of snow is due to fall up there tonight which will make things even more dangerous.
The most horrible thing about this, IMHO, is the proliferation of really hateful comments in the online news media. One TV station (KATU) has disabled the comment feature on their news stories about this accident, which I really appreciate. The families are of course devouring anything in the media and these totally uncalled-for-comments really hurt!
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Some people have been trying for years to require climbers to use the Mountain Locator units developed after the Oregon Episcopal School tragedy in the mid-1980's. These things are antiquated technology. Turning them on doesn't call anyone. It just transmits a signal for 24 hours that has to be triangulated before the source can be located. They don't work if there is no line of sight between the carrier and the rescuers trying to triangulate. The people who are agitating for these things have no idea how useless they are. The Portland Mountain Rescue team that has been up there has repeatedly stated that MLU's would have been no help at all in this case. No doubt, however, this issue will again pop up in the next state legislative session, although that won't happen for another year.
If you follow the link on my previous post, you'll see Portland Mountain Rescue's position on requiring the things. They've seen idiots rent the things and then go out in horrible weather knowing they'll be rescued. This is similar to the SPOT in the Grand Canyon incident that was extensively discussed here recently.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Loc: Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
I agree that the MLU's are inferior to PLBs. But I do believe PLBs should be required in the winter months. The fact is that SAR success this time of year is too low. So (a) rig the mountain with trail cams and sensors, (b) Cut access roads and/or build a tram to the top of the mountain, (c) disband SAR after December 1st as they aren't going to save a life anyway, or (d) require PLBs so that SAR/Air Guard can focus on a known location.
I would think that with all of the drones and spy satelites plbs wouldn't be necesary. Why not a dedicated mt Hood drone, not only would it help SAR but they would know if someone stepped of their registered route or violated curfew.
A guy asked me why they don't use them to find and track kidnapped children - my response "Because then the tax payers would realise that they are all being watched and listened to all of the time.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.