Portland Mountain Rescue

Portland Mountain Rescue is a search and rescue organization based in Portland, Oregon, United States. It specializes in high angle mountain rescue and mountain rescue in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington, as well as providing educational materials and information on mountain and backcountry safety. Secondary areas of operations include Central Oregon and western Washington.[1] The organization is 100% volunteer and has about 65 field-deployable members.[2]

Portland Mountain Rescue is called upon by sheriff departments when there is a reported missing climber, hiker, or other rescue mission requiring the unit's specialized skills.[3] Law enforcement does not climb the mountain, but relies on mountain rescue organizations for their skill, expertise, and experience.[4] Since its inception, Portland Mountain Rescue has been involved in most rescues on Mount Hood.

The organization's members have diverse backgrounds and professions. Their common attribute is that all are highly skilled climbers.[5] Each member spends a minimum of 30 hours training each year in necessary skills: navigation, alpine climbing, rope work, wilderness survival, patient care, and others.[6]

Portland Mountain Rescue volunteers object to media reports suggesting the members "risk their own lives" as it is hard on their families and inaccurate.[7] The organization has several procedures and requirements which insure its own member safety, such as working in teams of at least two on high, steep terrain.[8]


Up until the 1950s, there little in the way of formal mountain rescue in Oregon. Some of the mountain climbing clubs like Mazamas and Wy'east Climbers did many rescues where their members and friends needed help. When ski patrolling began on Mount Hood, members also participated in rescues.

In 1955, the groups which had been doing rescues formed MORESCO, an acronym for Mountain Rescue Council of Oregon. In 1959, MORESCO joined several other organizations from the western US and formed the Mountain Rescue Association at Timberline Lodge. By the mid 1970s, MORESCO was experiencing difficulties related to its wide geographic area; it began reorganizing into regional teams.[9] In 1977, the Portland unit of MORESCO formed Portland Mountain Rescue.


  1. "What is PMR?". Portland Mountain Rescue. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  2. Zach Urness (July 13, 2013). "The search to find missing climber, Kinley Adams". Statesman Journal. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  3. "These Men Might Save Your Life". Esquire Magazine. October 19, 2007. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-12-06. Bob Alexander: "More often than not, it starts in the middle of the night with a page from the sheriff's department. They're usually the first party that gets notified. Someone will call 911, and they'll be connected with the sheriff, and the sheriff will send out an alert to a certain number of folks in PMR"
  4. Urness:  :The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office runs the show when a climber goes missing on Mount Hood, but they lean heavily on groups like Portland Mountain Rescue to search the high altitudes and provide technical expertise. “This is their backyard,” said Sgt. Robert Wurpes, spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. “They know the common routes and the hazards, they know what can go wrong and common mistakes people make. “We set up a central hub, log everybody in and provide support, but we don’t have climbing capability. They’re the experts."
  5. Urness: "... there’s no single profile of the experts. Clarke is a retired fireman. Mark Morford is an environmental attorney. Eduardo Cartaya works for the U.S. Forest Service, and Jon Rhoderick is a recent Willamette University graduate working as a Emergency Medical Technician. ... 'Without mountain rescue, many of our paths wouldn’t cross,' Morford said. 'We have engineers, teachers, nurses, computer programmers and guys that work blue-collar jobs. I didn’t realize it when I joined, but the camaraderie of working alongside people I probably wouldn’t have met is one of the best parts of the experience.'"
  6. Urness: "'We bring in people who are already strong climbers,' Clarke said, 'and train them to be mountain rescuers.' Simply put, team members have to be good at everything. Maps and compass expertise, alpine climbing ability, knotcraft and wilderness survival skills are just entry-level requirements. Thirty hours of classroom and field training is required each year, focusing on a variety of skills that includes using specialized equipment and patient care in hostile conditions—getting an injured climber packaged, warm, and comfortable for transportation."
  7. "These Men Might Save Your Life". Esquire Magazine. October 19, 2007. p. 5. Retrieved 2010-12-06. Joe Owens: "A lot of newspapers talk about how we risked our lives in the search, and it's kind of demeaning to us. It's hard on our families when we read that kind of an editorial. We work in a difficult, harsh environment that's very challenging, but that doesn't necessarily mean we risk our lives."
  8. "Portland Mountain Rescue Team". Oregon Field Guide. OPB. 1991. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  9. Jack Grauer (July 1975). Mount Hood: A Complete History. self published. ISBN 0-930584-01-5.
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