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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Bemidji’s Mark Morrissey assists in Mount Shasta rescue operation throughout climbing journey – Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — When Bemidji’s Mark Morrissey headed to California final week, he hoped for a couple of good days of climbing on Mount Shasta — what he did not count on was that he could be concerned in a rescue operation for 3 fallen climbers.

Morrissey, assistant director of campus recreation and out of doors programming at Bemidji State, arrived at Mount Shasta on Friday, June 3, prepared for a weekend of snowboarding and climbing along with his good friend.

The mountain, a doubtlessly lively volcano with an elevation of 14,179 toes, has lengthy been a vacation spot for climbers, with a number of climbing routes suited to rookies and consultants alike.

“It was an extended, wet, foggy weekend, and we have been kind of ready for good climate,” Morrissey recalled about his first couple of days on the mountain. “It was windy up high, and it was very moist and grey. We simply kind of delayed climbing.”

As a result of inclement climate, the pair camped low on the mountain on the treeline, sheltered from the cruel climate that affected the upper areas.

On the low camp, Morrissey mentioned he and his good friend went on “little expeditions up the mountain,” and did some snowboarding. Their plan was to climb on Monday and Tuesday, as they hoped the climate would enhance by then.

Nonetheless, they weren’t far into their plan when catastrophe struck early Monday morning.

“Monday morning was chilly and clear,” Morrissey mentioned. “I seen it was a tough, arduous freeze all the best way right down to our camp, and we have been low on the mountain. It was like bulletproof, very arduous ice.”

In keeping with a Wednesday Fb publish from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Workplace, “a late-season storm over the weekend doused Mt. Shasta with rain, snow, fog and freezing temperatures, creating very icy climbing circumstances.”

Mark Morrissey, proper, sits at a campsite with one other climber on Monday, June 6, 2022, on Mount Shasta in California.

Contributed

Morrissey, nonetheless on the low camp, grew to become involved a couple of group of climbers that have been going to be heading as much as the excessive camp the place the circumstances have been a lot worse.

Due to this, Morrissey wished to verify he had contact with the group as they climbed.

“I received their radio channel, and we simply chit-chatted and talked in regards to the climate,” he mentioned. “I simply wished to verify they might name if circumstances deteriorated, so they might get some assist.”

After ensuring he had entry to the group’s radio channel, Morrissey and his good friend started making their approach up the mountain.

“We have been trekking up, and it’s sort of like a mountaineering path earlier than you get to the snow,” Morrissey mentioned. “On our approach up, we heard on the radio that (the group) was having some issue. They have been sort of battling the icy circumstances.”

At about 8:30 a.m., an hour after the pair started mountaineering, Morrissey heard over the radio that somebody within the group that was mountaineering to the excessive camp had witnessed a couple of climbers fall off a steep drop.

In keeping with a Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Workplace

Fb publish

, “two climbers and one information have been tethered collectively and ascending Mount Shasta, above Helen Lake, when one of many climbers misplaced their footing, inflicting all three to fall. The three climbers slid on snow and ice roughly 1,500-2,500 vertical toes down the mountain.”

Morrissey defined that the climbers fell down a slope that was so steep that different climbers within the group could not see the place that they had landed after the autumn.

“They fell out of sight, they simply rocketed down the slope and disappeared,” he mentioned. “It’s principally down a steep ice chute like a double black diamond ski run.”

After the decision got here in, Morrissey shortly received on the radio and contacted one of many climbing guides who had witnessed the autumn. The witness was a lead information with Shasta Mountain Guides, and as Morrissey realized later within the day, a fellow Minnesotan.

“His identify is Mike Madden, and he’s one other Minnesota individual,” Morrissey mentioned. “I didn’t uncover this till later, however after the entire accident we exchanged info and I noticed he was somebody I knew. We knew one another from educating climbing programs.”

061122.N.BP.MTSHASTA 2.jpg

Shasta Mountain Lead Information Mike Madden, left, talks with Mark Morrissey throughout a rescue operation on Monday, June 6, 2022, on Mount Shasta in California.

Contributed

Morrissey and others serving to within the rescue started relaying messages up and down the mountain, making an attempt to resolve the place to seek for the climbers who had fallen.

In an effort to stand up to the location of the accident, Morrissey and a climbing information “principally simply double-timed it up the mountain” as quick as potential.

“I had a couple of mile to journey — it went from path, to snow, to ice,” Morrissey mentioned. “I simply saved going up on my skis, after which I hiked in my ski boots.”

As soon as the fallen climbers have been discovered and Morrissey reached the accident website, he sprang into motion, doing chest compressions on one of many climbers who was unresponsive. At that time, he recalled, a number of climbing rangers, guides and different climbers have been helping within the rescue mission.

“We have been simply making an attempt to deal with the injured sufferers and the one crucial affected person,” Morrissey mentioned in regards to the operation.

After performing CPR on the unresponsive climber for about 45 minutes, she was airlifted to the hospital. The opposite two climbers, each injured from the autumn, have been airlifted to a parking space and transported to the hospital.

“(The unresponsive climber) was one of many guides,” Morrissey mentioned. “She died and was unresponsive the entire time. We did our greatest, however it was all we might do.”

The climber was later recognized as Jillian Webster, 32, of Redmond, Ore. In keeping with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Workplace, Webster suffered deadly accidents after falling 1,500-2,500 toes. The opposite two climbers, a boyfriend and girlfriend couple from Seattle, Wash., have been nonetheless recovering within the hospital as of Wednesday.

061122.N.BP.MTSHASTA 1.jpg

A Mount Shasta climbing ranger assists in a rescue operation for fallen climbers on Monday, June 6, 2022, on Mount Shasta in California.

Contributed

Sadly, Monday morning’s rescue operation was not the one incident that occurred on Mount Shasta that day.

“It was sort of a wild day, and it’s only a mixture of things,” Morrissey mentioned, noting Monday’s notably chilly and icy circumstances. “There was one other accident, after which one other accident.”

In keeping with one other Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Workplace

Fb publish

, inside a 24-hour interval beginning Monday morning the sheriff’s workplace responded to “4 separate rescue operations involving six injured climbers on Mount Shasta.”

With treacherous terrain and an unusually harmful day on the mountain, what Morrissey anticipated to be a median weekend of climbing turned out to be rather more.

Morrissey, who has been on the ski patrol with Buena Vista Ski Space in Bemidji for about 10 years, mentioned his rescuing instincts kicked in in the course of the operation.

“Mainly, ski patrol coaching kicked in,” he mentioned, noting the stark distinction between Bemidji’s small hill and Mount Shasta’s staggering heights. “It’s excessive altitude and it’s fairly steep. Nonetheless, the affected person care simply felt automated.”

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