BEND, OR -- Deschutes County 911 received a call from a hiker, just before 7 p.m. Saturday. He was hurt in a fall on the north side of the South Sister and was unable to continue on his own. The 23-year-old from Ithaca, New York reportedly triggered a small avalanche, which caused him to tumble down the mountain.
Poor weather conditions did not allow for a helicopter rescue that evening. The hiker 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 was activated and a team set out to the hiker's location at about 9100 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. DCSO contacted the Oregon Office of Emergency Management SAR Coordinator to request assistance from an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter Sunday morning, hoping weather conditions would allow a hoist rescue. The Oregon Army National Guard agreed to assist.
The Deschutes County Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Unit departed the Pole Creek Trailhead at about 1:00 AM to travel the nearly 9 miles to the subject. A contingency SAR team followed up the trail at about 6:00 AM, in case weather worsened and a helicopter rescue was not possible. The first team reached the hiker at 8:50 AM, and began evaluating his 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 AM. At about 11:33 AM, the patient was hoisted into the Blackhawk helicopter and transported to the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.