Deschutes County

Rescuers find overdue Broken Top climber

Had snowshoed solo into area; wet, cold but OK

BEND, Ore. - Searchers battling high winds and freezing rain Monday evening found a Eugene snowshoer who headed out alone Sunday to climb Broken Top, west of Bend, and ended up spending the night, Deschutes County sheriff's deputies said.

A concerned friend called county 911 dispatchers around 2:20 p.m. on Monday to report that Michael Holmes, 25 was overdue, said Special Services Deputy Liam Klatt.

Holmes had snowshoed into the bowl of Broken Top on Sunday, intending to solo climb one of the "couloir" routes to the summit, Klatt said.

Holmes told friends by text messages he had encountered some difficulties along the route and would spend the night near the summit.

Klatt said Holmes planned to snowshoe out in the morning, after reaching the summit, but no one had heard from him Monday, and attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue teams were deployed Monday evening, after Holmes failed to return to his car.

Holmes was found on snowmobile Trail 5, near Sparks Lake, and was "wet, cold and exhausted but … otherwise uninjured," Klatt said in a news release.

Holmes told rescuers he had descended by the easier Northwest Ridge to the Green Lakes area, then began the long snowshoe trip back toward Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, where he eventually encountered searchers on snowmobiles.

Holmes is an experienced climber, Klatt said, and was well-equipped. However, he was not prepared for an extended stay under the deteriorating weather conditions and high winds.

Klatt said the sheriff's office urges those heading into the backcountry to not travel alone, to do proper route research before leaving, and always plan for unforeseen issues, such as bad weather.

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