Climber slips and slides down icy face on Mount Hood

Climber slips and slides down icy face on Mount Hood »Play Video
Climbers wait with who appears to be the injured person in a thermal blanket near the Hogsback area of Mount Hood.

MOUNT HOOD, Ore. – A climber survived a fall down an icy slope on the Hogsback area of Mount Hood on Thursday morning.

Sgt. Adam Phillips with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said the climber was 52-year-old Gary Morgan from Clarkston, Mich. He was apparently on a solo climb when he slipped and slid about 400-500 feet down an icy face.

Two witnesses said Morgan was sliding very fast and at one point was launched across a crevasse. He stopped when his legs hit the ice on the other side, breaking the slide.

"He fell right into this crevasse area," said witness Mike Claypool. "He had no ice ax or crampons." 

"You could just see the horror in his face," said witness Paul Christian.

Sheriff's deputies said Morgan did have crampons but one fell off during the fall. He also had leather hiking boots, a hiking pole, a bicycle helmet and a day pack.

He did not have an ice ax, which is considered standard equipment for mountain climbing.

He suffered a serious injury to his hip and leg, as well as some other smaller injuries, Phillips said.

"He was somehow able to turn around like he knew head first he wasn't going to be able to survive," Claypool said. "I think that might have saved his life."

Clackamas County dispatchers first got a 9-1-1 call about the fall just before 9:30 a.m.

Video from Jet Ranger 2 showed people sitting near Morgan as they waited for a rescue near the base of Crater Rock. He was wrapped up in a thermal blanket to stay warm.

Rescue teams from Portland Mountain Rescue were in the area guiding the family of Mark Cartier for a memorial service.

Cartier was the experienced climber who fell 1,000 feet to his death in the same area last week.

Rescuers were able to quickly reach Morgan and offer him help.

Morgan was carried out to a snow vehicle near the Palmer Ski Lift and brought down the mountain. Rescue crews couldn't get the man off the mountain and to a hospital until late afternoon.

Morgan was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland in serious condition.

According to the sheriff's office, he had some climbing experience but had never climbed Mount Hood.

Morgan is also a former Olympic race walker.