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Three Climbers die in Fall
May 30, 2002 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Three Climbers die in Fall on Mt. Hood today. As if that doesn't suck enough, A helicopter crew member is injured critically after a military helicopter assisting in the rescue goes down. And this right on the heels of a recent climbing accident on Mt. Ranier, as well as a recent accident on Mt. Elias.

Ok, that's enough for this season.
posted by bicyclingfool (20 comments total)

 
Pave Hawk down. And I don't mean the metaphor flippantly -- our determination to put so many resources into rescues will continue to put more people at risk, unfortunately.
posted by dhartung at 6:20 PM on May 30, 2002


Well, yeah. Looking at the history of recent American military operations, almost all combat casualties have occured while attempting to rescue injured (or dead) soldiers.

Whether this is foolishness, or one of the luxuries that comes from living in a wealthy and advanced society, I can't say. I'd like to believe that it's the latter.
posted by jaek at 6:36 PM on May 30, 2002


CNN's practically running KGW-TV (Oregon) video footage of the crash on continuous loop. (Of course, to see the video at CNN, you have to pony up the cash to RealNetworks.) An 'expert' just deconstructed the tape frame by frame.

What they don't say on TV is what's reported on its website and elsewhere - that at least one person was thrown from the chopper and was crushed when it rolled.

A tragedy indeed. We're no stranger to similar losses here, sending a helicopter to rescue one lost hiker in the mountains and ultimately losing six people instead.
posted by pzarquon at 6:41 PM on May 30, 2002


I don't want to get into bashing mountain-climbing, but maybe if you are going to pursue such a dangerous hobby then dying frozen on the side of a mountain is something you risk? If you are going to battle the elements, then sometimes the elements are going to win.
posted by stifford at 6:56 PM on May 30, 2002


The soundtrack to this post should be this band
posted by Down10 at 7:09 PM on May 30, 2002


Mountain climbing is dangerous. 10% of K2 climbers die. Even the Denali death rate is around 1%, I think? But it's one of those risks that it's 'okay' to take, unlike smoking, or driving without a seatbelt, or riding a motorcycle without a helmet (in many states).

As far as putting people at risk to rescue stranded climbers, yes, it may not make rational sense, but it's the normal human impulse:
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:55 PM on May 30, 2002


I live in the shadow of Mt. Hood... it seems that every weekend, someone is getting lost and/or hurt up there.

That's what you get when you've got a winter recreation area that's less than two hour's easy drive from a fairly large, very outdoors-y city with an international airport.

And yes, I think it's appropriate that those who are lost or hurt are rescued. Would you want to tell some greiving widow that her husband had died of exposure on the mountain because he ran into bad luck and died of exposure before someone could get up there and rescue him?

BTW, no one was killed in the chopper crash, but one person has serious injuries.
posted by SpecialK at 8:14 PM on May 30, 2002


Another normal human impulse:

Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead
posted by crunchburger at 8:16 PM on May 30, 2002


If you decide to climb up one of these things, you take the risk of falling/being blown off it, freezing to death, or being pummeled by a mountain goat. If you live in a city, you take the risk of falling into an open manhole, etc. I fail to see why it's a tragedy or even of any particular note when it actually happens.
posted by Su at 8:37 PM on May 30, 2002


Vancouver suffers from the same problem. People head into the mountains, get hurt, people go to rescue them, they get hurt. And you know what? One of the hardest volunteer positions to get here is with North Shore Search and Rescue, the people that head up into the mountains all year and save lives.

These rescuers are outdoormen themselves and go after others because know the risks when they head out to save someone. It's human nature to try and save a life if you can. But you can't help but feel terrible when people get hurt trying to help someone, it really seems unfair.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:02 PM on May 30, 2002


The original poster was saying how many are dead so early in the season is noteworthy. What remains unclear is this a trend of some sort or just random coincidence. We take notice of increased shark attacks or school shootings and climbing deaths that seem to string together and ask why do they climb the mountain?
posted by stbalbach at 9:19 PM on May 30, 2002


There's a link to the video on this Yahoo news story of the crash.
posted by sillygwailo at 12:54 AM on May 31, 2002


i served on britain's busiest mountain rescue team for many years (team site here). the teams are made up of volunteers and it is a case of climber helping climber. in the uk they are funded by donations and collection boxes.

we were often assisted by the royal air force's search and rescue squadrons (raf link). these activities are regarded as excellent training for the pilots.

accidents involving rescue personnel are rare as they have excellent local knowledge, good equiptment and the back up of the rest of the team. occasionally i have been in risky situations on rescues, but i was able to make a judgement as to the risk.

the alternative is to let people die. this is unacceptable in my view.
posted by quarsan at 2:22 AM on May 31, 2002


Would you want to tell some greiving widow that her husband had died of exposure on the mountain because he ran into bad luck and died of exposure before someone could get up there and rescue him?

I think it's a case that her husband died of exposure on the mountain because he decided to climb a mountain. But I'm of the philosophy that if you die doing something you love to do, than it's not really that tragic a death, just unfortunate. And I didn't want to suggest that all mountain climbers should be on their own when trouble happens. But perhaps for certain more dangerous mountains, a "climb at your own risk" policy should be in place (which may be how it works, I don't really know much of the world of mountain climbing). To me, it just seems selfish to expect people to risk their lives to save you because of your chosen hobby.
posted by stifford at 6:37 AM on May 31, 2002


Mountain climbing is dangerous. 10% of K2 climbers die.

I believe it's for every 10 who summit, there is one death as opposed to 10% of people who attempt to climb it.

I climbed Mt. Rainier a few years ago and our guide, Winn Witaker (son of Lou and nephew of Jim, the first American to summit Everest) told us many a story of rescues he and his father had been involved in. As someone above said, they do it because they love the sport and want to help out those in need.

Should the coast guard not save sailors at sea?

That said, if it can be proven the climbers were unskilled or reckless, they should be heavily fined and forced to do 2898310981 hours of community service cleaning the outhouses in the national parks.
posted by bondcliff at 7:12 AM on May 31, 2002


ATTENTION: NATURE BOY--IT'S AN ICY MOUNTAIN. STAY OFF IT.

I feel the same way about this as when I hear of some sky diver whose parachute didn't open, or of somebody killed playing Russian roulette: grateful to the stupid for selecting themselves out of the gene pool.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:47 AM on May 31, 2002


My wife and I go on backcountry backpacking trips. We end up in very remote locations, and in our explorations we have things that, if they'd gone all wrong, would have resulted in our deaths. Not to mention the threat of "ordinary" dangers like encountering an aggressive bear.

But you know what? It's still *AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE SAFER* than driving to the trail head.

The same goes for the Mt. Hood climbers. Their risk of death was much higher during the trip *to* the mountain, than it was during the climb.

The public's perception of risk is not based on reality. If it was, driving would be banned and skydiving would be exceedingly popular.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 AM on May 31, 2002


The public's perception of risk is not based on reality. If it was, driving would be banned and skydiving would be exceedingly popular.

That's because more of the general (and stupid) public drive. If you took the same amount of people and had them jump out of planes, I'm willing to bet there would be a lot more skydiving accidents.
posted by stifford at 9:07 AM on May 31, 2002


If you took the same amount of people and had them jump out of planes, I'm willing to bet there would be a lot more skydiving accidents.

It's basically even, actually - 28 traffic fatalities per 100,000 participants, and 25 skydiving fatalities per 100,000.
posted by mdn at 9:20 AM on May 31, 2002


that's not taking into account the people that would talk on cell-phones and put on make-up when they skydive. ; )
posted by stifford at 9:36 AM on May 31, 2002


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