Each year, on the second Wednesday in May, the students and faculty of Oregon Episcopal School, as well as many staff members, parents, alumni, and friends gather for Mount Hood Climb Service Day. Through the activities and events of this day we honor our past, celebrate our gratitude to the greater Portland community, and inspire our individual and collective power for good.
The school community annually observes and appropriately remembers the Mount Hood Climb tragedy, which occurred in May of 1986, taking the lives of nine members of our community. Our Mount Hood Climb Service Day has a clear and hope-filled purpose. We spend this day in service to thank others for the critical and sustaining support the Portland community offered when our school was suffering. These many years later, our day of service has matured into an invaluable tradition and one of our most important endeavors.
Mount Hood Climb Service Day begins with an all school gathering around the Belltower. From that point dozens of service learning groups are sent out with a celebration and a blessing. Locally, over fifty agencies benefit from the hands-on presence of OES ambassadors. Through our engagement with these agencies we remember our responsibility to care for children, the elderly, and people living in poverty, in hunger or without homes. In addition, blended-age groups dedicate themselves to environmental and sustainability projects here on our campus, in and around our gardens, woods, and wetlands.
Seven students and two teachers from Oregon Episcopal School died on Mt. Hood during a climb that began 30 years ago today. They encountered a fast moving, severe storm and hunkered down in a snow cave for several days. Only two students were still alive when searchers found them.
Mt Hood, to this day, remains a place where weather can go from nice to nasty very quickly. Gerald Mackey with the National Weather Service says “a shower or squall can go over the top of you and drop a lot of precipitation in a short little period and drop visibility very low and get people disoriented.” He says showers are in the forecast for Mt. Hood this weekend.
Ten thousand people climb Mt. Hood each year and most of them do so between April and July.