sandy-glacier-caves-mount-hood

The Sandy Glacier's caves and tunnels have become a popular destination for adventurous Mount Hood hikers. Photo by Katie Campbell, Earth Fix.

Editor's Note: This article was updated from its original version to include the names of the rescued hikers and details about their adventure.

A hastily organized search and rescue mission succeeded in tracking down and saving two teenagers who got lost during a trek to the Dragon Ice Caves at Sandy Glacier Saturday.

The teens began their hike Saturday morning at the entrance to Mount Hood's Top Spur trail head in a desolate area off E. Lolo Pass Rd, in Rhododendron. They got separated after one hiker lost his backpack down an embankment and climbed down to recover it, since the pack contained important items including keys to their vehicle.

A phone call for help resulted in a massive response Saturday night from Mountain Wave 8 Communications, Clackamas County Search and Rescue, AMR Reach and Treat (RAT Team), Portland Mountain Rescue, Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue (PNWSAR), NORSAR North Oregon Regional Search and Rescue, and Hood River Search and Rescue, which deployed a search plane. The plane spotter succeeded in finding the teen who had climbed down into the embankment and got separated from his hiking partner.

Rescue teams made it to the lost teenager Sunday morning and found him with minor injuries from exposure to the elements. Upon finding the first teen they learned that there was a second hiker in the area, and they managed to locate the second teenager walking on the trail back to the parking lot.

The two teens were later identified as Tyler Sims, 16, and Cole Cameron, 17, friends from Tigard, Oregon. They were carrying working cell phones, food and some water. After a long day on the trail they decided to take what they thought was a shortcut back, but their improvised route brought them to the hazardous area where Sims lost his pack. They decided to separate to enable Sims, the better climber, to drop down and retrieve the pack containing their keys.

 “People were getting mad when they heard that we split up,” Cameron told reporter Geoff Pursinger of the Portland Tribune. “But at the time, it wasn’t really an option, if we stuck together and went my way, we had zero gear, and Sims is a much better climber than me.”

After failing to complete the climb back up and then getting lost, Sims called for help and made a fire to keep warm. Before leaving on the hike he had told his family where he was going.

To read the Portland Tribune’s detailed story about Cameron and Sims and their misadventure click here.

Here is the full news release sent out by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office at 11:21 am Sunday, November 9:

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office is happy to announce that two lost teenage hikers were located Sunday morning on Mt. Hood after and extensive search that started on Saturday Night.

The Sheriff's Office learned that two teenage hikers began their hike at the entrance to the Top Spur trail head which is located in a very desolate area off E. Lolo Pass Rd, in Rhododendron. The teenagers hiked to the Snow Dragon Ice Caves on the Sandy Glacier when one lost his backpack down an embankment. The teenager hiked down to get the pack and became separated from his friend.

The teenagers were equipped with working cell phones, some food and little water. Hood River Search and Rescue was able to put their airplane up in the air to search the area resulting in locating one of the missing teens. Through search efforts with Mountain Wave 8 Communications, Clackamas County Search and Rescue, AMR Reach and Treat (RAT Team), Portland Mountain Rescue, Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue (PNWSAR), and Hood River Search and Rescue, the teen was located and rescued who only suffered from mild exposure from the elements.

Search and rescue teams learned that there was a second missing teenager after rescuing the first one as they were unaware they had arrived as a pair and became separated. The second teen was located walking the trail, towards their vehicle.

Both teenagers are from the Tigard area and their names are not being released at this time.

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office would like to remind hikers to always carry sufficient food, water and clothing when going for an extended hike. It's always good to have a fully charged cell phone and if available, carry a second battery as some cell phone apps and GPS functions can rapidly drain a cellphone battery. Always let someone know where you are hiking and what time you plan to be back.

The Sandy Glacier has become an increasingly popular destination for adventurous Mount Hood hikers as more people have learned about a network of caves and tunnels that extends for more than a mile below the ice there.

Oregon Field Guide producers explored these caves and tunnels for the special program “Glacier Caves: Mt. Hood's Hidden World,” and they documented a surreal world that serves as a sad reminder of the unequivocal power of climate change.

The OPB Field Guide program is definitely worth checking out — and so are the ice caves themselves. Provided you know what you are doing, and you bring the proper gear.