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Injured climber airlifted off the South Sister

Man triggered a small avalanche, tumbled down the slope

SOUTH SISTER: Deschutes County rescue personnel were busy mid-month after a 911 call from a hiker who had taken a fall and injured himself. At 6:54 p.m. on June 16th, a male from Ithaca, New York, advised he was stranded on the north side of the South Sister.

According to Assistant Search and Rescue Coordinator Deputy Donny Patterson the climber had reportedly triggered a small avalanche, which caused him to tumble down the mountain. He was injured in the fall, which made him unable to continue down on his own.

The 23-year-old hiker was requesting a helicopter to get him off the mountain. Police say poor weather conditions would not allow a rescue flight that evening. Luckily, the man had a tent and a sleeping bag and was able to secure himself in until a rescue team could reach his location the next day.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue was activated and plans were made to send a team to the man's location - at about 9,100 feet on the mountain. Patterson said the time it would take to travel to the location and the need to negotiate avalanche terrain made a daylight rescue the only viable option.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management SAR Coordinator was contacted to request assistance from a Oregon Army National Guard helicopter in the morning, hoping weather conditions would allow a hoist rescue. The National Guard agreed to assist in the rescue the next morning

Patterson said the Deschutes County Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Unit left the Pole Creek Trailhead at about 1 a.m. and traveled nearly 9 miles to reach the subject. A contingency SAR team followed up the trail at about 5 hours later, in case the weather declined and a helicopter rescue was not possible.

The first team reached the hiker at 8:50 a.m., evaluated the his condition and prepared him to move down a glacier into an area where a helicopter hoist would be safer - away from a vertical cliff.

The Army National Guard launched their helicopter from Salem and arrived on scene at about 10:39 a.m. At about an hour later, the patient was hoisted into the Blackhawk helicopter and transported to the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.

Patterson said, "The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue would like to thank Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the Oregon Army National Guard for their assistance in this rescue."


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