Mount Hood hikers reach safety

January 15, 2008 7:21:37 PM PST
A pair of climbers who misjudged the weather on Mount Hood and got caught in whiteout conditions were taken to safety Tuesday after spending a night in a snow cave.

They said they didn't make it to the summit of the 11,239-foot mountain as they planned Monday because bad weather closed in when they were at about 10,000 feet.

"We thought we had a window in the weather, but we were wrong," said Justin Votos, 27. He and fellow climber Matthew Pitts, 28, are both from Portland.

They said they set out to descend back toward Timberline Lodge - at 6,000 feet - where they had parked their vehicle, but they missed the lodge in the stormy weather. They dug a snow cave for shelter at what they estimated was about 5,000 feet.

On Tuesday morning, they contacted searchers by cell phone.

Votos and Pitts said they had reached the summit of Mount Hood in previous climbs. They didn't carry radio locators on this climb because they didn't think they would need the equipment, but they promised to carry them when they make their next attempt at the summit.

Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest peak, attracts thousands of climbers. More than 35 have died in the past quarter century.