Oregon Army National Guard personnel in this big-ass helicopter extracted a wayward climber and the six rescuers that had been sent after him from the summit of Oregon’s iconic Mt. Hood on Friday. The man had called local police from the summit on Thursday and told them he was initially planning to take his own life by overdosing on medication. Rescue climbers reached him Friday, but by the time they got to him, conditions were too treacherous to descend due to melting ice.
“This time of day the mountain just starts to fall apart,” Phil Cole with the 304th rescue squadron said. “Everything is melting, ice and rock is coming off the mountain.”
At that point, rescue by air became the safest option. Apparently, the combination of warm air and high altitude (the summit is 11,250 feet) required rescuers to eschew standard UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for a beefier two-rotor Chinook that is most commonly used in search and rescue operations in Afghanistan. This one tried to park on the summit, but was unable to make a clean landing. So it simply parked its back wheels on the snow and scooped up the seven climbers.
“Because of the angle, we had to crawl out there just to get under the rotor blades. It’s kind of surreal but you just have to trust that the pilots know what they’re doing,” rescuer Joshua Kruse said. Using a big ol’ two-blade helicopter might seem like overkill, but a Black Hawk helicopter infamously crashed during a 2002 rescue attempt in the mountain.