Father of Dead Climber Proposes Requiring Locators
SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ The expedition to the top of Mount Hood that ended in the deaths of nine people stranded in a blizzard shows that climbers should be required to carry locator devices, the father of one victim said.
In testimony Tuesday before a legislative subcommittee considering whether the state should regulate mountaineering, Richard Haeder Sr. said the climbers from the Oregon Episcopal School at least should have carried an altimeter, an altitude-measuring instrument.
Haeder’s son, Richard Jr., was one of eight people found in a snow cave on about the 8,000-foot level of the mountain. Six of them died.
The bodies of three others in the climbing party had been found earlier in an area that turned out to be near the cave. But it took searchers three days to find the cave.
Haeder said climbers should carry radio transmitters that can be activated to send a locator signal so they could be found quickly.
He said the Beaverton school’s expedition ″turned into in effect, I think, a death march.″
He said his son never had been mountain climbing before. The school offers the climb as part of its required Basecamp program, designed to build self- reliance. The program requires that sophomores either make a climb up the peak or do 40 hours of community service, and most students opt for the climb.
Cameron Bangs, a physician and mountain climber who specialized in studying hypothermia, also supported requiring climbers to carry basic equipment and clothing.
The majority of preventable deaths are people who freeze to death, he said.
″I don’t think legislation to carry reasonable equipment interferes with anyone’s freedom on the hill,″ he said.
But some experienced climbers warned against overly zealous attempts to regulate.
″Education is the key, not legislating or mandating,″ said Craig Petrie, a patrol chief for the Mount Hood Ski Patrol, a volunteer organization that helps skiers and does some rescue work.