FALL ON SNOW, CLIMBING UNROPED
Oregon, Mount Hood, Southside
On July 5, Erik Heerlein (35), a climber from South Carolina, fell approximately 200 feet while descending the Mazama Chute variation (10,500-foot elevation) of the Southside Route. His unroped team members included an M.D. and a paramedic. They were able to report the accident via cellphone and provide emergency medical aid. Heerlein struck his head (some protection was provided by a bicycle helmet) and lost consciousness during the fall. He was transported to a local hospital by a Blackhawk helicopter.
Although this route is often climbed unroped during normal conditions, the exposure provides ample opportunity for injury during a fall. The security provided by the rope should always be considered. The helmet likely minimized the head injury. Having an M.D. and paramedic in one’s party is always good fortune. (Source: Jeff Sheetz, Portland Mountain Rescue)