Student hikers lost on Mount Hood

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Student hikers lost on Mount Hood

By Maddie Fiorante, Newspaper Editor

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    Students of Tigard High, junior Tyler Sims and senior Cole Cameron, found themselves lost on Mount Hood on November 8 after what was supposed to be simple weekend hike. Originally, the experienced hikers planned to follow the main trail head, Top Spur, to hike the Snow Dragon Ice Caves; but the descent from the caves created a downward spiral into what would become a long night on the mountain.

“I think a lot of people thought we were in over our heads, but that part [Snow Caves] was pretty easy,” Cameron said. Their issues started when the boys, fatigued from hiking all day, thought they saw a faster way down the hill, but once they arrived they found a cliff instead of a trail. As they stood to head out on a different path, Sims’s backpack fell over the edge.

Since the bag contained safety gear, food, a coat, and car keys, Sims resolved to climb down and retrieve it, but wasn’t able to get back up. Although splitting up proved a tough decision, they knew the equipment would be needed if they didn’t make it back by nightfall. While Cameron hiked back up the hill, Sims began following a nearby river to lead him toward where the trails meet. However, after walking for hours with no sign of Cameron, he ran into trouble.

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Photo courtesy of Tyler Sims.
The note they left for a family member in case they needed to be found.

“I got half-way down and it turned into this waterfall and I was like, ‘That’s not good, I can’t go down that’,” said Sims. After finding a spot with cell phone reception, he called 911 asking to send help. They told him to stay put so a plane could fly over and find his coordinates with the beacon in his backpack at 8 P.M. Luckily, the boys left a note with a detailed route planning their trip, which helped Search and rescue crews establish his position. Meanwhile, Sims made a small fire to keep warm and pass the time.

“I thought that was pretty sweet,” Cameron joked.

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Photo courtesy of Zac Sims.
A live-tweet describing the search.

During this time, Sim’s brother Zachary live tweeted the actions being made in an effort to find the boys. Trending in the Tigard area and among many students was “#findtylerandcole” and other similar tweets.

Sims was found around 2:30 A.M., while Cameron remained on the mountain hoping to find a way back to the main trail. After losing a shoe while sliding down a steep embankment too fast trying to get to the other side, he continued walking for about five miles through river and forest in windy 36 degree weather. Then he chose to sleep for a few hours since it was too dark to keep going.

    “I figured I should have been scared, but it was mostly just adrenaline and I wasn’t focused on acting scared,” Cameron said.

The next morning’s brightness provided an easier view of where he needed to go, and it wasn’t long before Cameron met up with search and rescue.

He recalled, “When they found me they didn’t think I was the person they were looking for because I was walking on the main trail. I thought they were just a couple walking their dog and I asked if I could use their phone and they were like, ‘Oh are you Cole?’”

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Photo courtesy of Zac Sims.
A live-tweet letting the public know when Cole had been found the morning of November 9.

    The boys made their respect for search and rescue known as the reveled at their impressive skills. “They really like what they do,” said Sims.

    Cameron agreed, “They fund all their own equipment. They get help from some taxes, like with the plane that flew over to find Tyler, but other than that they are completely self-funded, which is pretty cool.”

    After relieved family members reunited with the boys, and tweets confirmed they had been found, Sims and Cameron went back to normal life. The pair says the experience will not deter them from hiking again or visiting Mount Hood, but urge safety precautions be learned by anyone looking for adventure.