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 Oregon Mountaineering Association

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Mt Hood - Avalanche - South Side, Standard Rout

May 17, 2008

The OMA still plans to offer one avalanche safety class oriented towards climbers on May 31.

Mount Hood avalanche injures man, barely misses climbers
May 17, 2008

An avalanche on Mount Hood’s “Pearly Gates” area Saturday morning, May 17, slightly injured a teenager and sent mountain rescue climbers scrambling.

The avalanche hit at about 11:33 a.m. at the mountain’s 9,000-foot level. A man told Clackamas County emergency dispatchers that the slide hit about 500 feet from him and might have swallowed up a three-person climbing party.

Members of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue were scrambled to the mountain with American Medical Response Rescue crews.

The injured teenager was Ian Metcalf of Eugene. The other two men were identified as 67-year-old Dan Purkey, also from Eugene, and 51-year-old Doyle Allies, of Turner.

Metcalf and Purkey have climbed the mountain before. Allies had no prior mountaineering experience.

The three climbers, who were descending, were hit by the avalanche that swept a 60- to 80-foot wall of snow about 350 feet down the mountain. The snow broke on a rock formation above the men, causing them to tumble into the hillside.

Two of the climbers were not trapped in the heavy snow. The 18-year-old remaining party member was trapped in waist-deep snow with his head uncovered. He suffered minor scrapes, cuts, bruises on his face, arms and abdomen.

Powell McLean, a member of Central Mountain Rescue in Washington, was climbing with a different group descending the mountain when the avalanche hit. He climbed back up the mountainside and helped Metcalf to safety.

The climbers were taken by chairlift to Timberline Lodge.

Forecasters warned that the weekend’s hot weather could make conditions dangerous on the mountain as snow melted in the sun.

Avalanche Advisory

There was an avalanche warning in effect on this day and for at least one day prior to it. The avalanche center has an archived copy.

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