News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Helicopter lifts stranded climber off South Sister

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue personnel rescued a climber stranded in a precarious spot on South Sister on Monday, April 12.

Stephen Lamb, a 49-year-old man from Beaverton, called 911 shortly before 9 a.m. Lamb reported he had been climbing alone up the north side of South Sister, and found himself in a precarious location where he was unable to continue up and unable to climb back down the mountain. He was stranded on a small ledge in very steep terrain.

Snow, ice and poor rock prevented him from being able to move from his position.

Two Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Special Service Deputies responded to begin initial planning for rescue. It quickly became clear that the rescue would require technical rescuers from the DCSO Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Unit (MRU). Three Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers were flown by AirLink to the summit of South Sister. AirLink made two flights ferrying rescuers and a third flight to assist in locating Lamb.

Six additional SAR volunteers responded to the Devil’s Lake Trailhead via snowmobile to support the mission and five additional volunteers supported Incident Management. At the same time, the Oregon National Guard was put on standby for the possibility of a hoist rescue.

Rescuers had to proceed about 600 feet down a ridge off the northwest side of the mountain and then traverse laterally along the slope approximately 500 feet east to a location directly above Lamb. Lamb was located in a narrow chute.

At approximately 3:19 p.m., an MRU member rappelled to Lamb and secured him from falling.

Due to the precarious location, they assisted him from the chute to a safer location for the Oregon National Guard HH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to hoist from. At approximately 4:30 p.m., Lamb was hoisted aboard the helicopter and flown to a waiting sheriff’s deputy at Sisters Airport.

Lamb was uninjured, but exhausted from the long climb and from holding on to a ledge for over seven hours.

The Sheriff’s Office thanked AirLink Critical Care Transport and the Oregon Army National Guard G/1-189 Aviation Regiment for their assistance in the rescue.


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