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Mt. Hood Rescue

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
This weekend I was surprised to see live continuous coverage of an attempt to rescue 3 hikers on Mt. Hood. I only watched about ten minutes combined over the few days since I despise listening to CNN reporters doing live as-it-happens continuous coverage on things they know nothing about.

First off, my sincere sympathy goes out to those involved and their families and friends. I fully understand that this is a real tragedy and don't mean to imply that it isn't.

But I have a few questions. Why has the media latched on to this tragedy in particular? Why is/was this getting so much coverage? Is this a real freak event? Is there some twist to this story that makes it any different from any other avalanche rescue? Aren't there dozens of avalanches and rescue efforts each year in the US?

I never watch cable news anyway and it's not like I'm peeved they aren't running the normal 30 minute loop on basketball, Britney Spears, and holiday shopping - I could care less what they cover because I'm not watching it either way.

It just strikes me as really weird that flipping through channels both Larry King and Hannity & Colmes were both covering this thing and it was on CNN nonstop as well.
post #2 of 9
Originally Posted by Barnstormer View Post
But I have a few questions. Why has the media latched on to this tragedy in particular? Why is/was this getting so much coverage? Is this a real freak event?
I've wondered the same thing. A friend took a fall in utah a few days ago, spent 54 hours in the backcountry with no gear, with a broken pelvis, and finally crawled her way to help. And, she's arguably the best female endurance athlete in the country. Not a mention on national news...

I think the media just latches on to one story and the public is too dumb to realize that search-and-rescue are operating all over the country daily.
post #3 of 9
Well not to make an less light of the 3 climbers. After the Kim incident in Southern Oregon........the spotlight was already here. What an amazing women breckview. Glad to hear she made it out.
post #4 of 9
Slider, you're pretty close on that. I have a friend who I shoot skiing video with who also freelances for the networks. First there was the Kim tragedy and then the huge storms that hit while the climbers were already late coming off the mountain. He was already in Oregon shooting a story on lighthouses when the storm hit so the network called him and asked him to cover the storm and, once that was fairly much over, asked him to stick around on Hood and cover the last three days of the search for the climbers. Essentially it came down to cost-effective new coverage. The reporters and camera crews were already in place to cover the story so, cover the story and fill minutes with resources already in place at a more cost effective rate than perhaps some other story. Beyond it all, news is a business....

RIP to those guys.
post #5 of 9
TV broadcasters love to show live footage of and from helicopters.

Even though nothing was happening that was visible, you had shots of helicopters hovering over the top of the mountain in the sunshine. I found it very educational because I've never been to the top of Hood. I feel like I could just about climb there now.

Last but not least is the vulture factor...

What if the searchers had happened to find the two climbers alive? It would have been great footage (and audio if they were tapped in to the searchers' frequency) of the rescue as it was going on.

Besides, the alternative is to just continue showing film of Iraq or Palestine or Lebanon or Iran or sick Senators or NBA brawls or Britney without any underwear. Yuck.

The one I was just amazed about was a 1,000 page investigative report on the car crash that killed a princess ten years ago. Talk about a productive use of resources. :
post #6 of 9
The worst "coverage" was by Nancy Grace who is now doing general "talking head" stuff on one of the major networks.

What a somewhat portly, Atlanta trial lawyer could possibly impart and the pathetic attempt at legitimizing it was pathetic.

She brought on some "expert" who brought typical climbing gear for "props" ... a base layer, shell and a few hand warmers.

When she asked about the hand warmers and if they worked, the "exprert" tossed them aside and proclaimed .... "nah, they only work for 10 or 15 minutes" .....
post #7 of 9
Officials call off search for Mount Hood men
Sheriff gives up hope of finding climbers alive; mission a ‘recovery effort’

Updated: 40 minutes ago
PORTLAND, Ore. - Rescue teams gave up any hope of finding two missing climbers alive on stormy Mount Hood and abandoned their frustrating, 9-day-old search Wednesday.

“We’ve done everything we can at this point,” said Sheriff Joe Wampler, choking back tears after returning from one last, fruitless flyover of the 11,239-foot peak.

Wampler said the men’s families made the decision to end the search as yet another snowstorm barreled in.

“It was pretty much their conclusion. The chance of survival is pretty nil. I don’t think I can justify putting any more people in the field with the hope of finding them alive,” the sheriff said.

He said the operation was now a “recovery effort.”

Three climbers in all were reported missing in the snow on Mount Hood on Dec. 11. One of them, 48-year-old Dallas landscape architect Kelly James, was found dead in a snow cave on Monday. Volunteers continued scouring the mountains for signs of James’ climbing partners, Brian Hall, 37, and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke, 36. But climbing gear found on the peak suggested the two may have been swept to their deaths.

Wampler announced the end of the search after personally piloting a Piper Cub over the mountain for new clues and finding none — no tracks, no signs of snow caves, no other debris.

“Right now things are moving in from the west,” he said of the snowstorm. “That window has shut on us.”

Even before the sheriff spoke, all of the volunteers had returned to regular lives and helicopters used in the search had returned to their bases.

“I feel good about what I did. I wanted to do what I could for the family,” Wampler said. “You start something, you want to finish it.”

Wednesday morning, before the search was called off, Angela Hall, Brian Hall’s sister, said on NBC’s “Today” show that the two men’s considerable experience climbing mountains is just one of the things that gives her hope they are still alive.

“Also, just their strength of spirit, their strong will,” she said.

Search teams made a full-scale attack of the mountain over the weekend. But the search was scaled back to two air teams Tuesday and the rest of the crews were put on standby.

An autopsy on James was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. Officials have said he had a dislocated shoulder.

Climbers’ photos raise concerns
Hopes of finding the climbers alive dimmed after officials developed film in a disposable camera found in James’ pocket. The pictures, taken as the men began their ascent, show the three had enough gear and provisions for a quick climb up Mount Hood but not for a longer period out in the elements.

The photos show “three happy guys putting their stuff out there,” the sheriff said. But “looking what they had with them, I’m pretty concerned about how long somebody can last out there.”

Some climbers have survived in a snow cave for nearly two weeks in similarly punishing conditions. In January 1976, three teenagers lived for 13 days on Mount Hood after bad weather halted their effort to reach the summit. The youths bottled water dripping from the cave walls and survived on a mush of pudding powder and pancake mix.

But climbers suffering from hypothermia may become confused, delirious, and uncoordinated, and shiver intensely.

“The shivering is agony,” said Dr. William Long, director of the trauma center at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland. “Once the shivering stops, they have lost the ability to fend for themselves.”

The blood begins to lose oxygen and thicken, just as a car’s oil congeals in frigid temperatures, he said. “That puts a huge strain on the cardiovascular system,” Long said.

Digging for safety
Climbers are supposed to dig caves slightly uphill into snow banks, creating a trap for warm air rising from their bodies. A good snow cave will have a ledge to help drain melting snow or ice and a breathing tube that can be readily cleared; the entrance can serve that purpose. And it should be marked, perhaps by a piece of clothing anchored to the ice or a stick, to let rescuers know where to find the climbers.

Ice axes left in a crude shelter indicate the men had a difficult stay and moved forward without crucial tools.

Experts say it is critical to have fuel and a stove to heat water for drinking. Dehydration can contribute to the effects of hypothermia, and swallowing snow or ice only lowers the body’s temperature.

Sad News Indeed... Rest In Peace
post #8 of 9


Anybody remember the "Miracle in the Mountains" back in about 1989, in Aspen? The media descended on that one like a pack of wild dogs. Tragedy makes news, whether it's a war or a SAR. In Aspen it looked like seven skiers trapped in a winter storm were sure popcicles, including a senior aide to Colorado's governor. Then the aide and another guy skiied out on the opposite side from where they were supposed to be; the "young couple" turned back, never went up as far as the rest of the group and became instant non-entities; and the final three were found at a USFS cabin they had broken into. Would have made a great "movie of the week" except they all started bickering over what really happened, and could not agree on who was the hero and who was the zero.

Point is that is was a media circus. Daily reports, morning, noon and night. Live coverage. Interviews with "experts" on winter, survival, skiing and odd family members from across the country. It's all about ratings, baby. Tragedy sells.

This was all back when scientists were pushing "global cooling" as the bio-crisis du jour, which is why the skiers were trapped in such a bad storm anyhow.

I've been on searches and rescues where nobody knew and almost nobody but us who were there cared. I feel for the families...It's horrible when a mission is left up in the air like that.

Ski safe,
post #9 of 9
The whole event was pretty darn sad. I think the media hype was initially due to the husband calling his family saying he was in trouble and he was stranded in a snow cave near the summit of Mt. Hood. Then no more phone contact except for teh occaisional cell ping from the companies trying to track it. So you have three families waiting in Hood River, OR, waiting for word, not knowing. Meanwhile, one of the worst storms ever blew in so for 6 days after the phone call nobody could summit the mountain. The mystery of not knowing, anticipation of a rescue, coupled with an emotional family also contributed to the media hype.

Very sad. On a good winter day I have skiied off the Summit of Hood to Timberline Lodge in less than 1 hour. But the guys up there didnt know there way and may have had such terrible weather that they could not have moved anyway. My condolences to the families.

The real disturbing thing is some of the media and the way they searched for angles. Talking about rescue costs. Most of the SAR teams are volunteer. Funny, nobody brought up rescue costs when the family was stranded in the coast mountains of Oregon.
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