Oregon

Climber who fell up to 1,000 ft at Hogsback ID'd

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- The climber who fell between 700 to 1,000 feet on Mount Hood Tuesday has been identified.

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said 35-year-old Miha Sumi of Portland was pronounced dead upon arrival at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. Sumi was with a group of 4 climbers when he fell to his death.

Officials said Sumi reportedly slipped on the ice, failed to self-arrest and then fell up to 1,000 feet in the Hogsback area.

Scarlett Jana Zibritovsky was watching the live rescue yesterday. As the story developed, she started thinking about the people that might have known the climber who had fell. 

"And then to get a call in the morning and find out you were one of the people who knew him, it's pretty twisted," she said.

Zibritovsky became friends with Sumi after he moved to Portland from Slovenia. She said he was an "incredible human being."

"I don't think I've ever met anyone more kind or more adventurous," she said.

"Being on a mountain was his favorite place."

Jet Reports, where Sumi worked, released a statement following his death,

We have lost a valued colleague, who was beloved by all. His presence and character in our office will be sincerely missed. Our grief and confusion at this time are little compared to what Miha's family must be feeling. Our hearts and kind thoughts go out to them. At Jet Reports, we're a family and we will be supporting Miha's loved ones through this difficult time, in any way possible."

 

A difficult rescue

CCSO said 36-year-old Chatchay Thongthap, who was climbing with Sumi, immediately called for help after the fall. An independent climber was able to get to Sumi and began to render aid -- including CPR for an hour and a half. Several other climbers also responded to the area and were able to help. 

According to Sgt. Brian Jensen, the climbers helping Sumi were not among those rescued and were able to descend the mountain on their own.

As aid was being administered to Sumi, the climbers in his group were sheltering in place on Hogsback due to the dangerous conditions. 

Sumi's injuries included bruising around the ears, significant bleeding, loss of sensation and fading vital signs, authorities said.

Sumi was airlifted by the Oregon National Guard shortly before 2 p.m. However, he was already in critical condition at that time.

Another woman in Sumi's climbing group -- 32-year-old Kimberly Anderson of Beaverton -- was seriously injured and unable to move. She was eventually roped down by rescuers in a sled-like object.

"She was just physically and mentally exhausted, obviously traumatized by the fact that somebody she knew had fell," said Erik Broms with Portland Mountain Rescue. 

Broms, who helped the stranded climbers, said it took about 4 hours to bring them down.

Officials said the other 2 climbers -- Thongthap and Matt Zovrtink -- were upset and physically exhausted, but otherwise in okay condition.

The climbers reportedly had mid-level experience and were well-equipped with appropriate climbing gear, including ice-axes, crampons and safety gear like helmets. 

The climbers in Sumi's group and 4 other climbers were all rescued hours later from the treacherous conditions.

It's unclear if the 4 climbers were climbing together or by themselves, but they were able to safely make it off the mountain under their own power just before 7 p.m. They were escorted by rescuers but were fine, Jensen said.

An additional climber, Dan Parks -- not associated with Sumi's group -- suffered minor injuries from an unrelated fall, but was mobile.

Parks' mother, Kim Posekany, told KOIN 6 News, "This is the best Valentine's Day ever. I'm just so relieved. Appreciative for the search and rescue people. It was amazing for them to go up there."

In total, 7 climbers were rescued -- which doesn't include Sumi. 

Hogsback is at an elevation of 10,500 feet, almost to the top of Mount Hood, which is 11,239 feet.

Despite clear skies, conditions at Mount Hood were challenging due to falling rocks and ice -- which the peak often experiences during warm weather.

KOIN 6 News Reporters Eileen Park and Chris Holmstrom contributed to this report

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