Oregon climber rescued after surviving 700-foot fall on Mt Hood

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A climber on Oregon’s Mt. Hood was rescued on Saturday after surviving a 700-foot fall on a steep, icy route near the mountain’s peak, officials said.

Chris Zwierzynski, 55, of Arizona, had ascended to around 11,200 feet on the Old Chute route, a “very steep climbing route” on the mountain’s south side, when he slipped at 7:45 a.m. and suffered critical injuries, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said.

“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,” the sheriff’s office added.

Two off-duty military medics witnessed his fall and immediately descended to help, officials said. Two Mt. Hood National Forest climbing rangers were also nearby and quickly provided first aid to the injured climber.

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Rescuers reached the climber’s location just after 1 p.m. and stabilized him for transport off the mountainside.

A National Guard helicopter made a dramatic “hot landing” on a section of the mountain called the Hogsback due to excellent flight conditions around the mountain. Officials said the ideal mountain conditions allowed rescuers to get the injured climber off the mountain within just six hours after his fall.

No update on the climber’s condition was immediately provided.

Officials warned climbers that while climbing conditions have remained good for longer than usual this year, the routes up the mountain are still dangerous for those unprepared.

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“Nevertheless, all routes up the mountain are technical, requiring specialized training and equipment,” Mark Morford of Portland Mountain Rescue said in a statement. “All routes become progressively more difficult approaching the summit, which can lure inexperienced climbers into situations beyond their skill.”

Morford said that all potential climbers are urged to get proper training from an organization like the Mazamas, or to climb with a qualified guide.

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Mt. Hood is located about 50 miles southeast of Portland, and rises to an elevation of 11,249 feet.