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Classmates of Ill-fated Climbers Graduate In Oregon

June 6, 1986

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Three weeks after seven classmates and two of their teachers died in a spring blizzard on Mount Hood, the senior class of the Oregon Episcopal School has graduated.

″Our lives are profoundly diminished by their absence,″ the Rev. Peter Sipple told the class of 1986.

″They would be the first among us to celebrate life because that’s the way of life,″ Sipple, former headmaster of the private parochial school, said in his commencement address.

Among the 40 seniors awarded degrees were Brian Litzenberger, Ross Thompson and Molly Schula.

Miss Schula, 17, walked to safety with veteran guide Ralph Summers, who led the expedition up Oregon’s tallest peak on May 12.

Litzenberger’s younger sister, Alison, 15, was one of three students whose bodies were found May 14 outside a snow cave where the group of climbers had dug in to ride out the sudden storm. The group was forced to turn back just before they reached the summit.

Thompson’s younger brother, Giles, 16, was one of two survivors found in the snow cave on May 15. Giles Thompson remained in serious condition Thursday at Providence Medical Center in Portland, where he is recovering from two amputation operations and surgery to relieve a persistent chest infection.

Doctors were forced to amputate the Longview, Wash., teen-ager’s lower legs because they were too badly damaged by frostbite.

The other survivor rescued from the snow cave, 16-year-old Brinton Clark, has recovered enough to be able to walk on her own, but she did not attend the ceremonies. Miss Clark, who suffered minor frostbite and nerve damage, remains in good condition at Emanuel Hospital’s rehabiliation center in Portland.

″When you learn to live, you learn to deal with what comes your way,″ Sipple told the graduates and their families.

The ceremony was held at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Portland, the site of a memorial service two weeks ago that drew 1,500 people to mourn the victims of Oregon’s worst climbing disaster.

On Wednesday, a routine review of the rescue effort drew praise from professional mountaineers.

″Everyone thought everyone else did a super job,″ said Deputy Russ Williams, a spokesman for the Clackamas County sheriff’s department. ″Each agency felt everyone gave 150 percent.″

The three-day search involved 150 people who hiked across the mountain’s south face from May 13 until May 15, when the last of the climbers were found.

The review session was closed to the public but included representatives of mountain rescue organizations from around the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Air Force Reserve’s 304th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron.

The review findings were expected to be made public today, Williams said.

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