Multi-agency recovery effort planned
(Update: Climber identified, details provided)
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday identified an experienced climber from Kennewick, Wash., who slipped and fell hundreds of feet to his death on Saturday while traversing a glacier high on the slopes of Mount Jefferson with a group of fellow climbers.
David Freepons, 65, “had decades of climbing experience” but was unable to stop his descent on the east side of the 10,495-mountain, Oregon’s second-highest peak, Sgt. David Pond said.
Freepons was found about 600 feet downhill and deceased by his group, Pond said. He said Freepons initially fell about 500 feet, struck a rock outcropping and came to rest about 100 feet further down the peak, in an area very difficult to access.
The climbing group members were able to call 911, who activated a Life Flight helicopter, but Pond said it could not recover Freepons due to the hazardous conditions, distance and an inability to safely move him to the helicopter’s location.
The climber’s family has been contacted and advised a multi-agency recovery mission is being planned for this week, the sergeant said.
Sheriff Jim Adkins said Freepons was with a group of three or four others who hiked in from the west side of the mountain, which straddles the Jefferson, Marion and Linn County lines, as well as a portion of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. It’s Oregon’s second-highest mountain, after 11,250-foot Mount Hood.
Because the climber fell on a very challenging part of the peak to access, a helicopter is likely to play a key role in the recovery effort that will involve rescue teams from several counties, including Deschutes County, the sheriff said.
Pond said the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank these agencies for their assistance:
Office of Emergency Management – Search & Rescue Coordinator
Linn County Sheriff’s Office – Search & Rescue, Posse,
Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office – Search & Rescue, Mountain Rescue Unit
Lane County Sheriff’s Office – Search & Rescue, Eugene Mountain Rescue Unit
Benton County Sheriff’s Office – Search & Rescue, Corvallis Mountain Rescue Unit