On the evening of November 12th, 2014 Ben Newkirk (the subject) fell from below the summit on the south side of the Middle Sister. EMR sent a team of eight people in from the Obsidian Trailhead on the the morning of November 13th. Due to deteriorating weather from an approaching winter storm, the search was halted until the storm ended and the team returned to the trailhead. The subject's climbing partner was located by Deschutes County teams at the climbing party's campsite. They were able to evacuate the partner as the storm approached. On Sunday a team of seven EMR members and eight Corvallis Mountain Rescue Unit (CMRU) members were flown onto the mountain from Eugene Airport on a National Guard Chinook. The team landed near the 8000' level along the South East Ridge. The Chinook then did some aerial recon and thought they detected the subject from the air. They communicated this to the ground team, who then proceeded to the location at about 9000' down the west side of the ridge. They found the subject, who was deceased, packaged him in a SKED, and transported him back to the landing zone. The SAR team and the subject were flown back to EUG at about 1500.
EMR, CMRU, and Deschutes County Mountain Rescue Unit worked very well together throughout this mission. Deschutes ran communications from Bend for Sunday's mission, along with a couple Lane Co. SAR radio guys. Deschutes also had ground teams in from Pole Creek Thursday and Sunday and established a nice ski track between there and Camp Lake, where the subject and his partner had camped. Fortunately, the recovery team today didn't have to use it. EMR and CMRU worked very well together on the mountain. In a debrief session at the airport, members of both teams mentioned how the two teams blended together seamlessly. EMR adds that CMRU members are always a pleasure to work with. We also thank the National Guard for helping the mission with their helicopter.
Our sympathies go out to Newkirk's family and friends.
Eugene Mountain Rescue exists to provide Lane County with trained volunteer rescuers for emergencies in mountain areas and steep terrain. Founded in 1968, our volunteers are ready to respond 24 hours a day to people in need. EMR also works in our community to promote outdoor safety and safe mountaineering practices. EMR is nationally certified through the Mountain Rescue Association and we respond to mutual aid calls to other counties throughout Oregon and the Northwest.