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Mountain Safety and Rescue – Podcast

Health and Wellness

The Pacific Northwest provides ample opportunities to experience stunning natural beauty. It’s a perfect fit for Pearce Beissinger, physician assistant at Northwest Regional Heart and Vasular, who is an avid climber. Today he’s talking to us about his experience with Portland Mountain Rescue, and how we can stay safe as we explore this breathtaking region.

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  • CJ Anderson
  • Pearce Beissinger

Common mistakes many hikers/climbers make

  • Underestimating the terrain
  • Overestimating their abilities
  • Focusing too much on reaching a goal, without a plan for how to get back home safely

Memorable Rescues

Pearce has been part of two different teams to rescue climbers form fumaroles (an opening in the mountain face that emits volcanic gasses) on Mt. Hood. More information about fumaroles.

Avoid disaster

  • Pearce recommends these tips to avoid meeting him as part of a crew that comes to your rescue
  • Know the weather
  • Know the skill level of everyone in your group
  • Know your route, as well as others in the same area (what are the characteristics of the route and what will it demand of your team)
  • Know the 10 Essentials

A bonus essential – Common sense. The best resource you can bring to an outdoor environment is understanding what you’re doing and knowing how to effectively utilize all the equipment in your pack.

Don’t forget your backup plan

If something goes wrong what will I do to safely get myself back home? If I’m part of a team, what is our plan to keep everyone safe if things go wrong?

Plan ahead for a quick and effective rescue

While you may not have cell phone service when you’re out in the wilderness, chances are you did at some point along the way. By taking a photo at or near the start of your journey and sending it to friends you can give rescue teams a valuable tool for helping them find you. The metadata in your photo includes location information, which can help the team know where to start their search.

Even if you don’t know your surroundings, if your phone has service you can share landmark information with the rescue team to help pinpoint your location.

In addition to the location/beacon devices that are commercially available the Mountain Locator Unit is available to rent specifically for Mt. Hood.

Keep in mind that extreme environments can be hard on the batteries in your electronics. How will you keep them at proper temperature and do you have spares for emergencies? It’s always a good idea to carry low-tech signaling devices, like a mirror or whistle, as well.

Mountain nutrition

Bring things that taste good (to you)

Think about electrolytes. You’ll need some more salt to keep them up

Find the right amount of water for you. In extreme environments it’s possible to dehydrate, but also to overhydrate. Drink water before you feel thirsty, but not too much.



Author: LivingWell PDX Blog

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