A 16-year-old mountain climber narrowly avoided death Monday after falling 500 feet on Oregon’s Mount Hood, officials say.
The climber is in stable condition after he was rescued by members of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team and volunteers from local mountain rescue groups, ABC reports.
Gurbaz Singh was on his 90th mountain climb when the fall occurred at an elevation of roughly 10,500 feet. He is now recovering from a broken femur bone and will undergo surgery in Portland on Tuesday, according to KATU.
Friends of Singh say that he was a “fearless leader at the front of the pack,” but due to the icy conditions on Mt. Hood, he slipped in an area known as the Pearly Gates before falling 500 feet into the valley known as Devil’s Kitchen.
Our search and rescue coordinators are currently working to rescue a fallen climber on Mt Hood. Rescuers from Ptld Mountain Rescue, Hood River Crag Rats and @AMRHQ are currently on scene. The climber is in stable condition and is expected to be brought down by the rescue teams. pic.twitter.com/jjOf3I7uWl
— Clackamas Sheriff (@ClackCoSheriff) December 30, 2019
His father, Rishamdeep Singh, quickly drove down from Canada when he heard about his son’s accident.
“He thought he was going to stop somewhere, and he was trying to arrest the fall with his ax, but it just didn’t happen because he was rolling so fast that he couldn’t do it. He’s OK with that; he’s not thinking much of it. He’s talking to family and friends. He’s in good spirits.”
It took about four hours for rescuers to find Singh and another three hours to evacuate him from the mountain using a rescue sled.
Authorities urged visitors to exercise caution when attempting to scale the northern Oregon mountain, which lies in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.
Lt. Brian Jensen of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said:
It’s a technical mountain—it’s not a Sunday stroll, it’s inherently dangerous.
Going up there, you need to have the proper skill set and the proper equipment to do so safely. And doing so with anything less than that can be dangerous.”
Gurbaz’s father is adamant that he and his son will return to conquer the mountain once he recovers. Praising the rapid rescue efforts that saved his son’s life, he told ABC News in a statement:
“My family and my son want to thank everyone who helped rescue him, may the new year shower you with health and happiness. Because of you my son is in good spirits.
This was to be his 98th summit … we will be back soon to finish the job. God Bless AMERICA!”