Oregon Army National Guard assists injured climber on South Sister

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A New York man called Deschutes County 911 after falling and injuring himself on the north side of the South Sister. 

The hiker had reportedly triggered a small avalanche, which caused him to tumble down the mountain on Saturday, June 18, at around 6:54 p.m.

The man was requesting the assistance of a helicopter to get off the mountain. However, poor weather conditions would not allow for a helicopter rescue that evening.

He had access to a tent and a sleeping bag to secure himself in until a rescue team could reach him.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated and plans were made to send a team to the climber’s location at about 9,100 feet elevation on the mountain.

The time it would take to travel to the location and the need to negotiate avalanche terrain made a daylight rescue the only viable option.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management SAR Coordinator was contacted to request assistance from a Oregon Army National Guard helicopter in the morning, hoping weather conditions would allow a hoist rescue. The Oregon Army National Guard agreed to assist in the rescue Sunday morning.

The Deschutes County Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Unit departed the Pole Creek Trailhead at about 1:00 a.m. to travel the nearly 9 miles to the subject.

A contingency SAR team followed up the trail at about 6:00 a.m., in case the weather declined and a helicopter rescue was not possible.

The first team reached the hiker at 8:50 a.m., and began evaluating the hiker’s condition and preparing him to move down a glacier into an area where a helicopter hoist would be safer away from a vertical cliff.

The Army National Guard launched their helicopter from Salem and arrived on scene at about 10:39 a.m.. At about 11:33 a.m., the patient was hoisted into the Blackhawk helicopter and transported to the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.

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