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#289003 - 05/17/18 06:29 AM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: Russ]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2018
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Russ
I doubt they’re looking for $$$...

Only ten million of them.

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#289007 - 05/17/18 12:39 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6582
Loc: southern Cal
Thanks, AKSAR, for information specifics on the route and the detailed article you attached. One can only hope that there has been adequate review and soul searching so that future operations will function more smoothly.

There could easily have been a better outcome....
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Geezer in Chief

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#289009 - 05/17/18 01:05 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: AKSAR]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1048
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Originally Posted By: AKSAR
Originally Posted By: clearwater
Just read more about it in the Oregon Live site. The climber fell high up on the mountain above the bergshrund. What he was doing above the bersghrund unroped showed lack of good judgement. When you solo climb 3rd to 5th class, you can't blame the dispatcher for your death.
Back in the day, I climbed that route a number of times. And I descended it several other times after climbing other, harder routes. The area where he fell is steep snow. It is not even remotely 5th class. It is in that gray zone of angle, not really so steep that one feels like they need a belay, but steep enough that to stop a fall you must self arrest instantly. Many climbers solo it, many others do it as a rope team. I don't ever recall seeing anyone belay it, though I'm sure some have. The article linked below estimates that 10,000 people a year attempt Mt Hood, the majority of whom are on this "South Side Route".

It appears that he didn't have an ice axe, but rather was using ski poles with a self arrest pick on one pole. That would not be my choice of tools for the route. With an ice axe, one can push the shaft in at each step, to provide a hand hold to prevent a fall from happening in the first place. And if one does fall, a quick self arrest might save the day. I haven't used a ski pole with arrest tool, but my sense is it is a poor second choice to a good axe.

This article has more details, including time lines.


Was able to read more. I disagree about the climbing hazard. He died from a fall. By denfinition It was 5th class for the conditons. Icy, open bergshrund.

I always use a rope above the crevasse.



Edited by clearwater (05/17/18 01:24 PM)

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#289010 - 05/17/18 01:39 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: clearwater]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6582
Loc: southern Cal
Apparently he was wearing crampons. With crampons, one employs an ice axe, not some dinky ski poles, even is they do sport a "pick." Even an axe won't do you any good, unless you are capable of self arrest.

It all comes down to judgement, skills, and knowledge. Money can't buy those...
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#289012 - 05/17/18 06:45 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: clearwater]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 830
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Ummmh, sorry if this sounds political, so I am somewhat hesitant to post. Political commentary is not my intent, and I don't think this post is. Rather, this is one where my attorney background and experience kicks in and starts to define issues to be resolved, and policy issues involved. It echos cases I litigated over the years. So let me list a couple things that pop out at me:

1. Assume that the victim was unprepared/negligent in his preps for his climb, yet, could he still have been saved given a more rapid rescue?

2. Were any delays in rescue a result of bureaucratic/government negligence/incompetence/failure to define mission responsibilities, etc., even if the absolute time until rescue was pretty darn good (e.g. it could have been shorter without the delays)?

3. If the victim could have been saved with a more rapid rescue, AND the delay was a result of failures in #2 above AND the delay resulted in his death, what if any, damages should accrue to the family?

Note: in a philosophical/policy vein, holding governmental entities financially responsible for foreseeable failures & general incompetence/wrongdoing provides an incentive for them to reform their practices. So suing in a case like this may be seen as a way of forcing the various government entities to clarify responsibilities/coordination, despite the failings of the victim.

IMO, people screw up all the time; we have police/fire/EMS to provide a safety net when they do. When those services (appear to) fail because of bureaucratic "not my job" or "who's in charge" reasons, lawsuits provide one of the (sometime only) remedies that individuals have to bring the facts to light, and hold the government(s) responsible for their failures, and hopefully get needed reforms to help save people in the future.

Running down and verifying facts is what the lawsuit will do (hopefully).
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"Better is the enemy of good enough."

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#289015 - 05/17/18 07:21 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: clearwater]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2155
Loc: Great Plains
Without getting political or any more than necessary, it seems that punishing Govt agencies by filing lawsuits doesn't work that well. They pay or settle with our money, not their own.
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“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#289022 - 05/18/18 04:11 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: clearwater]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2018
Loc: Colorado
How does taking money away from the entity and giving it to individuals not involved in the situation (other than by blood/marriage) help the entity improve? Like it or not, the event was triggered by their family member doing something inherently dangerous in the first place. Sometimes people die when doing inherently dangerous things. Expecting rescue from the result of your own actions is all well and good, but you have to remember what caused the need for rescue in the first place, and assign primary responsibility appropriately. If a four hour failed rescue attempt merits a 10 million dollar payout, what should the initial primary triggering event caused by the climber payout? Billions? Should the family who now wants their 10 million have to pay the larger amount back to the rescuers?

Why, as a result of the death, should the family be enriched to the detriment of the entity(s) that responded and attempted rescue, and the taxpayers who funded the endeavor?

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#289023 - 05/18/18 05:16 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: haertig]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6582
Loc: southern Cal
It strikes me as odd that a summit attracting some 10,000 climbers a year would not have well established procedures for handling the inevitable rescues that such a crowd will generate. Well understood routines for dealing with climbing accidents should have called out helicopters more quickly than the time interval in this situation. I would hope that there is rigorous critique of actions and corrections/updates to procedures to be followed in the future.

In a sense, SAR can be a victim of its own success. A good, well conducted rescue gets time on the media, leading to the expectation that volunteers are lurking just around the next bend in trail, poised to spring into action. I actually had a victim, hiking on a long trail with no equipment whatever, tell me that he did so because rescues were so prompt and well executed

Believe me, when you are called for the third operation that day late in the evening, you may not be as spry as you were on number one. Every organization has limits to its capabilities.

There can be good outcomes from botched SAR operations. My very first SAR experience was a horribly screwed up mess, further hindered by an epic winter storm that further impeded operations. The newly elected sheriff took stock of the situation and developed a much better and effective response, although that didn't happen overnight.

It is important that folks venturing out take responsibility for their actions and prepare for emergencies/unexpected events. our SAR outfit has always spent a lot of time in public outreach/education. In the long run, that is more efficient that sallying forth to clean up the messes. You can do a lot of public outreach for much less than 10 mil....
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#289025 - 05/18/18 07:12 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1111
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: hikermor
It strikes me as odd that a summit attracting some 10,000 climbers a year would not have well established procedures for handling the inevitable rescues that such a crowd will generate. Well understood routines for dealing with climbing accidents should have called out helicopters more quickly than the time interval in this situation. I would hope that there is rigorous critique of actions and corrections/updates to procedures to be followed in the future.
Yes, it certainly appears there is room for improvement.

For example, apparently Portland Mountain Rescue had a "Ready Team" on the mountain, but that team only heard about the fall from other descending climbers. It seems odd that after the initial call, the sheriff's dispatch didn't contact the ready team and ask them to investigate? Did dispatch even know the ready team was there and available? And it also seems odd that the ready team apparently had no way to check with the Sherriff dispatch to see if they knew anything?

Also, Mt Hood has a couple of large ski areas on it's lower flanks, all of which have expert Ski Patrols. There is Timberline and Palmer on the S side, and Mt Hood Meadows on the E side. A lot of skiers also climb high on the mountain above those ski areas (into mountaineering terrain) to ski off. The skier/climber issue does seem to have been a factor.

Another issue that may be significant is that when 911 transfered the call to the Clackamas Co Sheriff's office, it was handled by a "community service officer" who handled the call. Sounds like there might have been a training/experience issue there.

Finally, there might be some issues with geography and nomenclature. The person placing the call apparently said the accident was "just above timberline". He may have meant this as on the S side of the mountain, high above the Timberline Lodge and ski area. The sheriff's employee seems to have interpreted this as just above timberline in the elevation sense, which would have put it in ski terrain.

There are other possible issues that may cause problems on Mt Hood. Mt Hood is on the county line between Clackamas and Hood River counties. Hence SAR responsibilities are split between two counties. However, that doesn't seem to have been a factor in this case.

Communication (in every sense of the word) is often the big issue when rescues don't go well!
_________________________
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#289026 - 05/18/18 07:18 PM Re: Family of fallen Mount Hood climber sues [Re: bws48]
DesertFox Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 339
Loc: New York, NY
Does Oregon recognize governmental immunity? If so, the suit won't go far.

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