Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Mount Hood photographed from Mount Saint Helens
Photo courtesy of the United States Geodetic Survey
November 23, 2005, by John Pallister - click to enlarge
We are hoping for the best for the missing climbers on Mount Hood. One of the climbers, Luke Gullberg, was found dead at around 9,000 feet last weekend.
24-year-old Anthony Vietti and 29-year-old Katie Nolan are missing, and we hope, are holed up in a snow cave somewhere high on the mountain. The climbers left at 1 AM Friday, and hoped to summit and return before nightfall. The weather has been so abysmal, and the avalanche danger so high, that no one can go up on foot. Black Hawk helicopters have been circling the mountain, but have so far seen no signs on the missing climbers. The Associated Press reported there would likely be no further flights over the mountain, but the Black Hawk was back Monday. They saw no sign of the climbers.
Photographs found in Luke Gullberg's camera showed the climbers were roped up at some points during their climb. Gullberg's body, however, was not roped.
As it happens, I am reading Jim Curran's K2 Triumph and Tragedy now (you probably don't know this, but I am an armchair mountaineer, and have probably read around 50 expedition books over the last ten years). Despite the 13 climbers who died on K2 (out of 27 who reached the top in 1986), the survivors withstood incredible epics and nightmare bivouacs. It no longer seems likely that Vietti and Nolan have survived, but it is not at all impossible. One thing reading those fifty mountain books taught me is that fit, experienced and resourceful climbers CAN survive against incredible odds.