PORTLAND – Rescuers who had come to a man’s aid after he tumbled down Mount Hood in Oregon say he had not been using an ice ax.
Witnesses heard 32-year-old John Thorton Jenkins say, “I should have had my ice ax in my hand,” shortly after he tumbled about 600 feet down the slope, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported Wednesday.
Rescuers believe Jenkins had been hiking with trekking poles. He was pronounced dead Sunday after an Oregon Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter brought him to a Portland hospital.
Jenkins had been able to speak with rescuers, but gradually showed difficulty breathing, Portland Mountain Rescue team leader Rocky Henderson said.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Henderson said. “This is my first experience of having a person in my care expire.”
Rescuers are not sure if Jenkins had been climbing up or down when he fell, they said.
Jenkins’ girlfriend Shawna Lamoree had been hiking with him when he fell. Her Facebook page features a photo, posted Tuesday, of Jenkins heading uphill on what appears to be Mount Hood’s Hogsback slope.
The photo shows Jenkins wearing spiked gripping devices, called crampons, strapped to his boots, and his pack exterior includes the halves of a snowboard that can be assembled for back-country travel.
Portland Mountain Rescue leader Steve Rollins said conditions had been good at the time, but the area Jenkins tumbled from, Hogsback, was icy.
“In hard ice condition like that … Climbers need to be using an ice ax and be ready to do a self-arrest,” a maneuver to stop or slow an uncontrolled fall, Rollins said.
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