An Oregon Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter lifts off after a rescue from Mount Hood
By Terray Sylvester
TIMBERLINE LODGE, Ore. (Reuters) - A climber was critically injured after falling up to 1,000 feet (305 meters) on Mount Hood in Oregon and up to 15 other people remained stranded on the mountain in difficult conditions on Tuesday, authorities said.
The injured man was airlifted off the snowy 11,000-foot (3,353-meter) mountain in northern Oregon to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Brian Jensen of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said.
The Portland Oregon newspaper, citing state search and rescue coordinator Scott Lucas, reported that the climber was bleeding, had injuries to his face and that his respiration was on and off.
A spokeswoman for the hospital said she could not confirm that the climber was a patient there or discuss his condition, citing medical privacy laws.
An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 climbers from around the world try each year to scale Mount Hood, an 11,249-foot-tall (3,429-meter) peak in the Cascade range.
A potentially active volcano, Mount Hood ranks as the highest mountain in Oregon and is clearly visible in Portland, about 60 miles (97 km) to the west.
Major Chris Bernard of the Air National Guard's 304th Rescue Squadron said that climbers had been stranded when cold overnight temperatures warmed quickly during the day, causing ice and rock to break loose.
"It was a great climbing scenario last night on Mount Hood and it just turned bad," Bernard said.
Of those still stranded on the mountain, at least one person had sustained a non-life-threatening injury, Jensen said.
Four people were stranded above a treacherous area with enough food and water to last the day and had been told to stay in place because conditions made a descent hazardous, he said.
Another three to four climbers were attempting to make their way through those hazardous areas down the mountain.
Jensen said it was possible there were more people on the mountain that had not been in communication with authorities.
A 40-person rescue crew, assisted by Air National Guard crews, was working to get everyone to safety before a storm hit later on Tuesday or early on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver and Alex Dobuzinskis, Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler and Susan Thomas)