Sheriff's Office leads rescue mission on Mt. Hood after fatal climber fall

News Release from: Clackamas Co. Sheriff's Office

Posted: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 12:02 p.m.

 

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office led a search-and-rescue mission on Mt. Hood yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018) involving multiple climbers in the Hogsback area of the mountain, at approximately 10,500 feet. One climber fell and is deceased. Additional climbers were contacted by rescue volunteers and escorted or transported down the mountain to Timberline Lodge.

At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Sheriff's Office received a report of a fallen climber on Mt. Hood. A member of a climbing party of four (referred to in this release as "Group 1") reportedly slipped on the ice, failed to self-arrest, and fell approximately 700 to 1,000 feet in the Hogsback area of Mt. Hood.

Miha Sumi, 35, of Portland This fallen climber is identified as Miha Sumi, 35, of Portland. A provided photo of Mr. Sumi is attached.

One of the four climbers in that group -- Chatchay Thongthap, 36 -- called 911.

The Sheriff's Office activated a search-and-rescue operation. Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue (SAR) Coordinators deployed to Mt. Hood, setting up a command post at Timberline Lodge. Volunteer search groups were also activated; groups responding to the mountain included Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR), American Medical Response's Reach & Treat (RAT) Team, the 304th Air Rescue Squad, the Hood River Crag Rats, and Mountain Wave.

At approximately 10:34 a.m., Clackamas County Search & Rescue Coordinators contacted Oregon Emergency Management (OEM) to request a helicopter.

An independent solo climber unaffiliated with Group 1 reached fallen climber Miha Sumi. The solo climber began administering CPR. Mr. Sumi's injuries reportedly included bruising around the ears, significant bleeding, loss of sensation, and fading vital signs. Several other climbers in the area also responded to render aid. The climber was given CPR by climbers on-scene for approximately one-and-a-half hours.

While these climbers were administering aid, the Group 1 climbers were sheltering in place on Hogsback due to the treacherous conditions. The climbers reportedly had mid-level experience and were well-equipped with appropriate climbing gear, including ice-axes, crampons and safety gear that included helmets.

Dispatchers repeatedly lost communication with the Group 1 climbers, creating logistical challenges for SAR Coordinators.

Despite the clear skies, conditions at Mt. Hood were challenging due to falling rocks and ice. Additionally, NOAA was forecasting significant snowfall that night. Rescuers were racing against the clock.

Members of the RAT Team, PMR and the 304th Air Force Rescue Squadron began making their way up the mountain to the climbers. Snowcats transported rescuers up to the top of the Palmer lift for deployment and stood ready to transport recovered climbers back to Timberline Lodge.

An Oregon Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter deployed from Salem to the mountain. The Blackhawk crew included a pilot, copilot, paramedic, and hoist operator. At approximately 1 p.m., the Blackhawk located the injured climber and climbers administering CPR.

A litter and Guard paramedic were lowered down. The paramedic loaded Mr. Sumi onto the litter.

The fallen climber was hoisted into the Blackhawk and transported by air to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Despite the best efforts of climbers at the scene and the chopper medic, Miha Sumi was declared deceased upon arrival at the hospital. Authorities then began an effort to confirm Mr. Sumi's name and age, which were unconfirmed at the time, so they could begin family notifications.

In the afternoon, a U.S. Navy helicopter was dispatched from Naval Station Whidbey Island, arriving at Timberline at approximately 6:30 p.m. It remained at Timberline on standby through the end of the rescue operation.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., rescuers from AMR's RAT Team reached the sheltered Group 1 climbers and provided SAR Coordinators with updates on the climbers' conditions.

An additional male climber who was not part of Group 1 -- Dan Parks -- had minor injuries from an unrelated fall, but was mobile.

Rescuers and climbers sheltered in place, as rescuers from PMR and the 304th began laying rope-lines that would allow the climbers to safely descend the mountain.

Climbers then began descending the mountain, but a complication arose: One of the Group 1 climbers -- Kimberly Anderson, 32, of Beaverton -- became unable to move.

The ambulatory climbers continued under escort to the snowcats and arrived at Timberline Lodge at approximately 6:40 p.m., where they began a debrief with SAR Coordinators. Meanwhile, rescuers secured Kimberly Anderson in a sled and began carefully transporting her down the mountain using rope systems.

The group helping Ms. Anderson arrived at the snowcats at the top of Palmer Lift approximately 30 minutes later. They were then transported to Timberline Lodge.

This ended the field phase of the SAR operation -- beating the encroaching inclement weather by hours.


STATEMENT FROM CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF CRAIG ROBERTS:

Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Miha Sumi. Thanks to all the search groups for their tremendous work on this complex search-and-rescue mission. Every SAR mission is a team effort requiring help and careful coordination from teams of dedicated first-response partners and volunteers.


CLIMBER NAMES:

GROUP 1 -- members of the party with the fallen climber

NOTE TO MEDIA: These climbers do not want to speak to media outlets at present, and are requesting privacy at this time.

  • Miha Sumi, 35, of Portland -- fallen climber, airlifted off mountain
  • Kimberly Anderson, 32, of Beaverton -- transported by sled down the mountain
  • Chatchay Thongthap, 36
  • Matt Zovrtink, age currently unknown

ADDITIONAL CLIMBER WITH MINOR INJURIES:

  • Dan Parks

SEARCH PARTNERS:

The Sheriff's Office was assisted in this operation by:

  • Portland Mountain Rescue
  • American Medical Response Reach & Treat Team
  • 304th Air Rescue Squad
  • Oregon Army National Guard
  • Hood River Crag Rats
  • Navy personnel at Naval Station Whidbey Island
  • Oregon Emergency Management
  • Mountain Wave

[END]

News-release archive

Contact Info:
Sergeant Brian Jensen
Office of Public Information
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office