Climber killed on North Sister
21-year-old man from Bend fell into a steep ravine
July 27, 2023 | View PDF
NORTH SISTER: Hope turned to sorrow following a 12:18 p.m. report on July 17th that a woman’s boyfriend had fallen approximately 300 to 500 feet down a Cascade peak and was severely injured. According to Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Fiona Curley was unable to see where Joel Tranby had fallen and couldn’t reach him due to the extremely steep and rocky terrain of that section of the North Sister.
A Lane County Sheriff’s Office SAR Coordinator and a Mountain Rescue volunteer arrived in the area via a LifeFlight Network helicopter and immediately began searching. At that time, Tranby was believed to have fallen into a very steep ravine made up of extremely large and unstable boulders. Curley had told authorities she could communicate with her boyfriend but unfortunately, he had stopped responding verbally before searchers arrived.
The search team as well as an Oregon National Guard Blackhawk crew were unable to locate him. Police said the area where he fell is extremely dangerous and inaccessible to searchers on foot. Additional teams from Lane County Search and Rescue, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Mountain Rescue, and an AirLink Helicopter also assisted in the search.
Crews resumed the search the next day with the Civil Air Patrol utilizing a high-resolution camera, and a ground team comprised of volunteers with Corvallis Mountain Rescue and Eugene Mountain Rescue. They utilized a small drone to further search the area.
Utilizing intel gathered from drone footage, Lane County Sheriff's Search and Rescue personnel located the missing climber on Thursday morning.
Search and Rescue personnel were able to observe his body from a helicopter but because of extremely loose rocks and steep terrain reaching him on the ground was deemed impossible.
Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue personnel are consulting expert climbers from a number of sources to determine if a recovery mission can be safely conducted.
“We are saddened by this loss of life and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.
Tranby’s parents, April and David Tranby plan to establish a scholarship fund in their son’s name at Oregon State University-Cascades, where he was a student.