Oregon, Mt. Hood. On 4 May Terry Simonich (26), Linda Simonich (26), Robert Patterson (32), Terry Riddell (26), Dave Skinner (27), and Pam Skinner (24), set out to climb the WyEast route. All of the party had previous climbing experience with the exception of Patterson, who had attempted a Mt. Hood climb before but was unsuccessful. The party was well equipped and clothed. The climb started in clear cold weather and there were no difficulties on the first portion of the climb. Their route approached from the East side of the mountain. Weather report from the Meadows ski area was broadcasted clear and warm weather at 10:30 a.m.
They reached the summit at 11:30 or 12:00 and were greeted by a high wind, snow and very low visibility. During a brief break in the white out they were able to continue the route down the South side. Patterson on reaching the summit fell to the ground and seemed to be exhausted, and said that he could not go farther. Patterson had trained well by running 1½ miles a day but his condition seemed to have been brought on by anxiety not physical fatigue. Linda Simonich reported at the critique that the party groped their way down the chute and at about 1:00 the leader decided that it was impossible for them to go farther, as Patterson’s condition had deteriorated and he was unable to stand. Terry Simonich decided that it was best that they remain where they were and that they should dig snow caves in which they could remain during the storm.
The first cave housed four and was completed in about one hour and the second housed the two Simonichs and took about half an hour to dig. Linda Simonich stated that Patterson’s condition was very lethargic during this operation and from then on. The night was spent in the cave and in the morning, 5 May, Terry and Linda left the cave for about fifteen minutes but found that the storm was still too severe and that due to their wet clothing, they were unable to travel in such cold weather, so they returned to their cave and spent the remainder of the day and Sunday night.
On Monday, 6 May, Terry Simonich, Dave and Pam Skinner left the cave at about 9:15 a.m. to go down the mountain to secure help. Patterson’s condition at that time was critical. Terry Simonich told later that they had been gone about two hours but rescuers stated that they had not travelled much over 100 yards in a very zigzag course from the cave when reached by rescuers. Robert Patterson had succumbed and the remainder of the party suffered various degrees of frost-bite and hypothermia.
Source: MORESCO Newsletter.