WATCH: Helicopter Balances On Cliff To Rescue Climber Who Fell 700 Feet

By Bill Galluccio

July 6, 2022

An Oregon Army National Guard helicopter assisted the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office with a daring rescue on Mount Hood. A 43-year-old climber was trying to summit the mountain when witnesses said he lost his ice ax and fell nearly 700 feet, crashing into the rocks below.

Miraculously, the man survived the fall but was seriously injured. A rescue team of law enforcement and local volunteers found the man and provided basic first aid.

The only way to get the man off the mountain was to airlift him, but he was stranded at nearly 12,000 feet, making a helicopter rescue extremely dangerous. Because the helicopters used by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office don't have enough power to operate at that altitude, they had to enlist the help of the Oregon Army National Guard.

"Helicopters really aren't supposed to hover at around 10,000, 11,000 feet," Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Newgard told KATU. "So there's a lot of math involved, and you kind of have to poke around and see when you fly close to the mountain, and you start slowing down, that's when the engines really have to start to work, and you just have to look at all your instruments."

About three hours after the rescuers reached the man, the helicopter finally arrived and carefully landed on the mountain. The pilot had to balance the helicopter on the edge of the cliff with the rear wheels in the air. Once the helicopter was stable, two medics jumped out and placed the injured climber into a basket so he could be airlifted to safety.

Officials said the man was taken to the hospital but did not provide an update on his injuries or his condition.

"We train to do it all the time. I mean, I don't want to act like it was not difficult, but we do train for this stuff, and the unit down there in Salem is incredible. The training we get from the Army, so it prepared us well for it," Newgard said.

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