Daring Helicopter Rescue Saves Injured Climber on Mount Hood

A climber that fell 300 feet on Mount Hood was rescued by Clackamas County search and rescue teams with the help of an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter Saturday morning.

At about 7:30 a.m. that morning, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue (SAR) Coordinators responded to a climbing accident on Mount Hood. Katie Howard, a 23-year-old climber from Portland, had called 911 to report her climbing partner — Von Donald Houvener, 26 — had fallen and was presumed to be seriously injured.

Houvener had fallen 300 feet down to the White River Canyon and was located at approximately 9,100 feet.

Clackamas County SAR was activated and called on special teams including Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR), Mountain Wave, American Medical Response’s Reach and Treat Team, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Due to the seriousness of the injury, special permission was requested and obtained from USFS to enter the Wilderness Area with motorized equipment. SAR Coordinators also contacted the Oregon Office of Emergency Management to request a helicopter from the Army National Guard out of Salem for support.

Rescuers used a snowcat to travel above Palmer Lift into the Wilderness Area below Crater Rock. The first team of rescuers reached Houvener at about 11 a.m. He was found conscious and alert — but seriously injured.

The patient was stabilized and prepared to be hoisted by an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter that soon arrived on the scene. The rescue chopper hoisted Houvener and transported him to an area hospital just after noon.

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