Climbers suffer broken leg, injured knee after avalanche on Mount Shasta

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Cal. – Two high skilled climbers are safe after suffering a broken leg and an injured knee following an avalanche on Mount Shasta Saturday.

According to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, the climbers who had been stranded at just over 12,000 feet, had intended to summit the mountain before snowboarding down the Avalanche Gulch route. However the pair triggered a wind slab avalanche at 13,000 feet.

Weather conditions including strong winds and poor visibility made it impossible for CHP Air Operations to fly and land its helicopter near where the climbers were stranded. So with the help of U.S. Forest Service Climbing Rangers and a group of professional mountain guide volunteers, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team hiked in to find and rescue the climbers.

During a brief break in the weather, the CHP helicopter was able to transport members of the USFS Rangers and SAR team to an area just below where the climbers were.
Just after 6 p.m. first responders reached the two climbers and began treating their injuries. One climber had a broken femur and was showing signs of frostbite and hypothermia, he required assistance down the mountain. The other climber was able to snowboard back to the Bunny Flats trailhead with an injured knee.

Both men survived and no members of the search and rescue team were injured.

According to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, the two climbers “were highly skilled mountaineers with extensive experience on Mount Shasta. Still, the men found themselves on a wind-loaded aspect that gave way, and carried one of them 1,000 feet down Avalanche Gulch.”

Police say its worth noting that regardless of experience, no one is immune to hazards on Mount Shasta and its ever-changing conditions can turn a rapid-extraction operation into a time and resource-intensive process.

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