Injured Climber Rescued From Mt. Hood

On Saturday, July 6, the Clackamas County and Hood River County Sheriff's Offices led a mission to evacuate a critically injured climber from Mt. Hood.

Around 7:45 a.m. on July 6, 2024, a climber slipped on the Old Chute route on Mt. Hood. This is a very steep climbing route, high on the mountain's south side, located at around 11,200' elevation. The snow surface was frozen, and the climber was unable to arrest his fall — tumbling about 700 feet down to the Hot Rocks area and sustaining multiple injuries.

Fortunately, help was nearby: A couple of off-duty military medics witnessed his fall and descended to help. Two Mt. Hood National Forest climbing rangers also were in the area, and provided first aid to the injured climber.

Search & Rescue Coordinators from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and Hood River County Sheriff's Office activated a joint mission. They called on personnel from Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR) and the Hood River Crag Rats to mount an evacuation. The Oregon Department of Emergency Management and U.S. Forest Service also joined the mission. Given the patient’s critical condition, SAR Coordinators requested helicopter transport from the Oregon Army National Guard's 189th Aviation Regiment, which specializes in medical evacuations.

PMR and Crag Rats rescuers reached the patient shortly after 1 p.m. They stabilized the patient and prepared him for transport.

Excellent flight conditions allowed the National Guard helicopter to do a dramatic "hot landing" on a portion of the Hogsback. Rescuers transported the patient the short distance to the aircraft, which then flew him to a Portland hospital for emergency treatment.

The patient was off the mountain quickly—about six hours after his fall — largely because mountain conditions were ideal for rescue.

The injured climber is identified as Arizona resident Chris Zwierzynski, age 55.

According to Mark Morford of Portland Mountain Rescue, "May through early July is a popular time to climb Mt. Hood, and good climbing conditions have lasted longer this year than most. Nevertheless, all routes up the mountain are technical, requiring specialized training and equipment. All routes become progressively more difficult approaching the summit, which can lure inexperienced climbers into situations beyond their skill. Portland Mountain Rescue urges climbers to get proper training from an organization like the Mazamas, or to climb with a qualified guide."

Source: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office

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