Washington climber’s body recovered after fatal fall on Mt. Jefferson

Courtesy Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office

Search and rescue teams Saturday recovered the body of a Washington man who fell to his death while climbing Mt. Jefferson one week ago.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said a recovery team started hiking into the remote wilderness location on Friday afternoon, hiking about 15 miles and climbing Mt. Jefferson until about 10:00 p.m.

They spent the night on the mountain and began their day at 3:00 a.m. preparing for the arrival of a helicopter from Leading Edge Aviation to bring the body of 65-year-old David Freepons to Metolius Meadows in Camp Sherman where family and friends were staged and waiting.

Freepons, a climber from Kennewick, Wash. with decades of experience, slipped while traversing a glacier on the east side of Oregon’s second tallest peak, Adkins said in a press release at the time of the incident.

He was unable to stop his descent and friends found him dead, several hundred feet down the mountain.

Hazardous conditions and the inability to move Freepons to a location for LIfeFlight prevented a recovery effort a few days later and Adkins told family members a multi-agency recovery mission would happen this week.

“My heart aches for David Freepons’ family and friends during this most difficult time,” Adkins said. “I can’t imagine the pain of losing a friend in such a manner and being helpless to help or recover David from such a remote and precarious location, and having to wait so long to get him off the mountain.”

Saturday, expert climbers with several SAR teams helped with the effort, including the Corvallis Mountain Rescue Team with Benton County SAR, Benton County SAR, Eugene Mountain Rescue with Lane County SAR, Mountain Rescue Team with Deschutes County SAR, Lane County Amateur Radio operators, Linn County Posse members (shuttling gear for teams) and couple volunteers of the Jefferson County SAR team who were support and command.

“I want to personally thank Sergeant David Pond for his caring and tireless pursuit to gather so many experts from other counties to get the job done,” Adkins said. “When he reached out to other Search and Rescue coordinators in Oregon, their expertise and knowledge were able to put a recovery plan into action. I’m so thankful for our working relationship with other Sheriff’s SAR teams.”

The sheriff also lauded the help from Leading Edge Aviation for providing the helicopter and working with the rescue teams.

Adkins said the remote location of the accident was within the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area, within the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Indian Reservation, within Jefferson County, Oregon.


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