Climber stuck on Mt. Hood: 'I knew I had to call for help' - KPTV - FOX 12

Climber stuck on Mt. Hood: 'I knew I had to call for help'

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Rescue crews returned with Asitsinh Rathod just before 8:00 p.m. Friday. (KPTV) Rescue crews returned with Asitsinh Rathod just before 8:00 p.m. Friday. (KPTV)
Asit Rathod said he has skied the summit of Mt. Hood 200 times, but his getting stranded Friday is a good example of why people should not climb in weather. (KPTV) Asit Rathod said he has skied the summit of Mt. Hood 200 times, but his getting stranded Friday is a good example of why people should not climb in weather. (KPTV)
MOUNT HOOD, OR (KPTV) -

An experienced mountaineer who became a stranded hiker is safely off Mt. Hood, after he got stuck in whiteout conditions and called for help.

Asit Rathod, 43, of Portland said he has skied the summit of Mt. Hood 200 times, and is just finishing a book about the many routes down.

“It’s kind of my thing, it’s why I love Oregon so much,” Rathod said. “So for a guy like me to make a mistake like this is a real good example of why people should not climb in weather, be smart, come prepared.”

Rathod headed up his beloved mountain Friday morning planning to ski the summit once again. But this time, he ran into trouble.

He knew bad weather was moving in, but says he misjudged it and he found himself in whiteout conditions.

“I went against my better judgment and just kept going,” he said. “I knew I was in trouble when I was on top of [the Mississippi Headwall] because I’ve been out there before, so immediately I stopped and I had no visibility at all at that point, and I knew I had to call for help.”

His call gave rescuers his GPS location, and crews from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Mountain Rescue moved in, using a 3-D map of the mountain to show his position and how they planned to bring him out.

But the challenge in reaching Rathod wasn’t the terrain, it was the weather.

“The visibility, I would rate it at zero, you could basically see the tips of our skis,” Mark Morford, one of the two rescuers from Portland Mountain Rescue who brought Rathod back down to Timberline Lodge, said. “Literally we had a probe out in front of us, not to probe the snow but so we could see something in front of us.”

Rathod didn’t just call rescuers. He called his parents back home in Portland.

“He said, ‘Well I’m stuck here, I’ve already called the rescue people. I’m calling you, you might hear it on the news and don’t worry, I’m fine,’” Rathod’s father, Narenda said. “I taught him how to ski and he’s way ahead of my level, so I know he’s an experienced person, so I didn’t worry.”

Because of the difficult weather, rescuers finally reached Rathod about 4:30 p.m., almost eight hours after he called for help, and made it back down to the lodge with him around 8:00 p.m.

“Hearing their voice felt great,” Rathod said, adding that he did pushups during those hours to try and stay warm. “I’m a little tired, but excited to get home and see mom and dad, see the dog, see friends.”

Now, Rathod is thanking his rescuers, who he says are humble but do heroic work.

“I left my GPS at home, I didn’t charge my [phone] battery in full today,” Rathod said. “I made a lot of mistakes I tell people not to make, so shame on me and hopefully people can learn from my mistake today.”

He plans to return to Mt. Hood this weekend, in better conditions.

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