Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mt Hood - One Man's Heroic Effort to Save His Friends

The thing that drives me nuts about accidents where everyone involved dies is that there's a huge story that is doomed not to be told except by conjecture.

There are enough clues in what we know so far about the most recent Mt. Hood tragedy to imply something dramatic happened. On Friday Katie Nolan, Luke Gullberg, and Anthony Vietti set off on a winter climb of Mt Hood in perfect conditions at 1am. When they didn't return that day at the expected 2pm, people began to worry. The next day Gullberg's body was discovered.

Halfway down this article:
you get the intrigue - the one glove. Gullberg had ONE glove and it wasn't his - it was Nolan's, and it implies all sorts of drama and a very heroic effort to save his friend.

Current conjector is that Nolan was in an accident and lost a glove. Gullberg with minor injuries (or not - they may have happened later) decided to try get help and gave his gloves and pack to Nolan and took her one glove for some warmth. It appears he was then caught in an avalanche and later perished from hypothermia. But what a guy. He was doing everything he could to save his friend. This implies that Nolan was alive when he left her. He was found at 9100' so she is probably higher up, perhaps in a rudimentary snow cave (they have ice axes, but no shovel.)

We currently have no info about Vietti.

I do wish that Gullberg had taken photos after the accident, but that's the last thing you think about even though it's something that we all hang to. We know they were all smiles just beforehand so what happened happened quickly.

There is a publication called Accidents in North American mountaineering that comes out every year and is a litany of cautionary tales and some very well thought out scenarios. Their study of what might have happened to Karen McNeil and Sue Nott on Mt. Foraker is first rate.

Next year's issue should be interesting and we'll have to see if anything turned up in the following weeks. Meanwhile I'm leaving my Google Alert on the topic turned on.

1 comment:

Mark Aldiss said...

I have a twitter 'friend' who is a friend of Katie Nolan's family and he asked for prayers from anyone who could when they were first reported missing. I have left a Google alert on for this and have offered up many a hope - I am not a religious man in the praying sense - It has been sad to watch the drop into despair and hopelessness as the week went on.
I was also twittering with Military_Mum, the twitter who lost her son by drowning about the same time - pure coincidence and sad because it shows how easy it is to have something happen that effects more than just the person it occurs to. Social media is a powerful tool. I see far greater changes coming - and for the better, than most social analysts have envisioned to date. The outpouring of caring for these two incidents shows that, on the whole, we, the human race, cares more than we don't care. The balance does seem to be for positive social change rather than for a slide into negative anarchy.