Sheriff's Office leads successful Saturday-morning rescue of fallen climber on Mt. Hood; climbing partner available for interviews; video available



Search and rescue operation

Please reference CCSO Case # 20-013340

Photos: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ]

B-roll video of chopper hoist from rescue operation (.mp4 format):

At about 7:30 a.m. on Saturday June 27, 2020, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue (SAR) Coordinators responded to a climbing accident on Mt. Hood.

A climber -- Katie Howard, 23, of Portland -- had called 911 to report her climbing partner -- Von Donald Houvener, 26, of Portland -- had fallen and was presumed to be seriously injured.

Houvener had fallen about 300 feet down to the White River Canyon and was located at approximately 9,100' elevation.

Clackamas County SAR was activated and called on special teams including Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR)Mountain Wave, American Medical Response's Reach and Treat Team, and the U.S. Forest Service. SAR Coordinators from the Hood River Sheriff's Office also responded to assist, as the area the climber fell was located is near the border of Clackamas and Hood River Counties. Due to the seriousness of the injury, special permission was requested and obtained from USFS to enter the Wilderness Area with motorized equipment. SAR Coordinators also contacted the Oregon Office of Emergency Management to request a helicopter from the Army National Guard out of Salem for support.

Rescuers used a snowcat to travel above Palmer Lift into the Wilderness Area below Crater Rock. Rescuers then traversed east to the edge of White River Canyon and onward to the patient.

The first team of rescuers reached the patient about 11 a.m.

They assessed Houvener. He had serious injuries but was conscious and alert.

The Oregon Army National Guard helicopter arrived soon after. The patient was stabilized and prepared to be hoisted by the helicopter. The rescue chopper hoisted Houvener and transported him to an area hospital just after noon.

All the rescuers made it down off the mountain safely. The Sheriff's Office thanks  all the rescue teams and organizations involved for their support and assistance during this successful rescue op.

Photos from the rescue operation are attached, and B-roll video of the chopper hoist can be downloaded from this Dropbox address:

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY: Katie Howard -- Houvener's climbing partner who made the 911 call -- is available for media interviews. Contact PIO Sgt. Marcus Mendoza for contact information.

SPECIAL CORONAVIRUS SAFETY NOTE: Volunteer rescue crews are taking what precautions they can in the age of COVID-19 -- but they're also asking climbers to consider this before summiting the mountain. To ensure quick and safe rescues, volunteers must often move in confined spaces, working as a team in close proximity. These close quarters have rescuers concerned about COVID-19 exposure -- if a patient or rescuer contracts COVID-19, everyone in the rescue group would have to quarantine, which would diminish our response in future rescue missions.