School Mourns Deaths of Nine : One of 2 Rescued Climbers in Very Critical Condition

Times Staff Writer

Two teen-agers who survived a 96-hour ordeal in a snow cave on Mt. Hood were in critical condition Friday, after teams of doctors worked through the night to bring their body temperatures up to normal.

Meanwhile, students and teachers at their tightly knit parochial school mourned the deaths of nine other climbers from the original party of 13, and the students canceled their senior prom to hold a memorial.

On Friday morning, physicians said that both Giles Thompson, 16, of Longview, Wash., and Brinton Clark, 15, of Portland, were in stable condition, but by Friday evening Thompson had developed external bleeding and was reported in very critical condition.

The nine who died included a teacher, a dean and seven students of Oregon Episcopal School, an exclusive private academy of 570 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The toll apparently makes it the second-worst known mountain climbing accident in the continental United States.

Thompson and Clark were the first to be flown off the mountain by helicopter after they were discovered Thursday evening by searchers who were among nearly 100 looking for them. The climbers had fashioned a snow cave on Monday to escape the blizzard that struck suddenly. Doctors could not save four students, a teacher and a dean of students who were taken to five Portland hospitals.

The group had set out early Monday on what for the past dozen years had been a sophomore class tradition of scaling Oregon's tallest peak.

Their snow cave was only yards from where three other students had been found frozen Wednesday. Two others, including a mountain guide and a senior at the school, had struggled down the slope earlier in blinding snow to summon help.

The dead, including the Rev. Thomas Goman, the leader of the outing, had body temperatures of between 40 and 50 degrees when they were discovered at 5:40 p.m. Thursday, said Dr. Gregory Lorts of Providence Medical Center

Lorts said of the six who did not revive that "none of them had vital signs at the scene." Nonetheless, doctors worked late into the night in an unsuccessful effort to save them.

Continuous Church Services

At the school, church services were held throughout the day. A box of tissues had been placed at the entrance to the pews. Students and teachers would not speak to outsiders. Instead, they spoke in hushed tones and consoled one another with hugs.

But despite the tragedy, some parents and leaders of the school said the yearly mountain climbing expeditions should continue.

"I believe that climbing Mt. Hood is an experience that everyone who wishes to should have," Joseph Connolly, president of the school's Board of Trustees, said Friday afternoon as he fought back tears.

The school's tight-knit nature was reflected by comments of parents and alumni.

"The school is so small that we know everyone," one mother said. Another, referring to the quiet, wooded campus, said it was a "little like heaven."

Graduates Return

Throughout the day, florists delivered bouquets of flowers, sent by parents, alumni of the school and others. Several graduates returned to the campus on Friday to be with the mourners.

"There was nowhere else for me to be. I feel much better here," said Bonnie Potts, a 1981 graduate who had scaled Mt. Hood as a sophomore.

"I just wanted to be supportive," said Whitney Crookham, who was graduated in 1980.

Crookham had been at the school only last Friday to seek counseling from Goman, who was called Father Tom by students and faculty.

"He was a very gentle man, introspective," Crookham said of Gorman. " . . . He made friends easily, and never talked down or was condescending to anyone."

Trained Rigorously

The school, founded as a girl's academy 117 years ago, has as part of its rigorous curriculum a four-year wilderness course for its 150 high school students. In the second year, after what several parents and others described as months of training, sophomores were led on an expedition up Mt. Hood.

Often in past years, the hikers turned back because of bad weather. "My group never made it," Crookham said, recalling that student climbers in his class "got blown off by 80 m.p.h. winds."

But until this week, no one had been hurt during the climbs, several of the alumni said. "They were all looking forward to it and they wanted to make it to the top," a school bus driver said as he stood outside the school's chapel. "I climbed it once and told them it was great, that they would have a great time."

Planned for a Year

"This was something that was planned for a year," said Geri Hayes, parent of a freshman. "It was not some whimsical trip where you would pack a bag lunch and go."

She predicted, however, that there would be no more excursions up the mountain.

"It would be opening a wound that none of us will be able to deal with," she said.

The group began the climb at 2 a.m. Monday, and had scaled to within 14 feet of the 11,235-foot summit when they headed back in the mid-afternoon after the weather turned bad. However, a blizzard hit before they could reach safety, and overnight temperatures plunged to 50 degrees below zero. Visibility was no more than an arm's length because of a white-out, caused by a thick fog that shrouded the massive mountain 60 miles southeast of Portland.

The dead discovered on Thursday were Susan McClave, 17; Richard Haeder, 16; Pat McGinnes, 15; Tasha Amy, 15; Goman, 42, a math and ethics teachers at the school, and Marion Horwell, 39, dean of students.

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