At 9:42 am on Sunday, July 26, 2020, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a climbing accident on Mount Hood, OR.
Within minutes, dispatch notified Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue (SAR) Coordinators, and they deployed along with volunteers from American Medical Response’s Reach and Treat (RAT) Team and from Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR).
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Initial reports were that two climbers had fallen approximately 1,000 feet and suffered injuries. Other climbers on the mountain had made their way to where the patients were located and were rendering aid. The location of the two climbers was determined to be west of Hogsback, behind Crater Rock, at approximately 10,000 feet.
Based on this initial information, SAR Coordinators feared there might be significant injuries. They later learned one climber had moderate injuries and the second had only suffered minor injuries. The two climbers were tethered, and authorities believe they in fact slid about 700-feet down the mountain.
The climber with moderate injuries was identified as Michelle Malik, 33, of Forest Grove. She had been climbing with her husband Travis Malik, 30, of Forest Grove, who suffered minor injuries.
The Hood River Crag Rats joined SAR Coordinators, AMR’s RAT Team, and PMR at Timberline Lodge. The Hood River Sheriff’s Office also sent a SAR Coordinator to assist, Mountain Wave deployed to help with communications, and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement joined the rescue effort.
The first team of rescuers reached the Maliks and the climbers helping them just after 1 p.m. on Sunday. A helicopter from the Oregon Army National Guard had been requested, but it was canceled when rescuers determined the moderately injured climber was not critically injured.
Rescue teams stabilized Michelle and began their descent to Timberline Lodge. Rescuers arrived at Timberline Lodge around 6 p.m. on Sunday, where they were met by AMR paramedics. Michelle was transported to an area hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Travis Malik was able to provide assistance to Michelle alongside rescuers and came down the mountain under his own power.
Michelle and Travis Malik do not want to talk to the media, and request privacy at this time.
SAR Coordinators and rescuers stressed that Mt. Hood is unpredictable this time of year due to snowmelt, icefall, and rockfall dangers. We are outside of the normal climbing season, and climbing Mt. Hood is not advised at this time.
According to PMR, the climbers were roped together but were not setting anchors to hold a fall. They were wearing microspikes instead of technical crampons for grip on the ice. One of the climbers lost her footing and fell, and the roped-together climbers fell 700 feet down the crater wall, landing close to the Hot Rocks fumarole at the bottom. Miraculously, the resulting injuries were not life-threatening.