Watch This CH-47 Chinook Stick An Awesome Pinnacle Landing During Mount Hood Rescue

Mount Hood, just an hour’s drive from Portland, is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. That beauty and easy access draws a lot of climbers and adventure seekers, a handful of which will require rescue. When alpine rescue teams can’t get the job done, Oregon’s national guard choppers are brought in to execute what are often daring operations. This happened yesterday when an Oregon Army National Guard CH-47 was called in to extract a suicidal climber and a rescue team off of the mountain.

The ordeal began on Thursday with a call to police from a climber on the summit of Mount Hood who said he was going to take an overdose of medication. Police called the number back but there was no answer. Eventually, a search and rescue operation was ordered which was commanded by the Oregon Air National Guard’s storied 304th Rescue Squadron.

The individual was found on the 11,250-foot summit by a six-man rescue team but hot conditions made it unsafe for the team to make the descent down from atop the mountain. A CH-47D from the 168th Aviation Regiment, based in Pendelton, Oregon, swooped in to execute an extraction operation. 

For rescues above roughly 8,000 feet, and especially in warm conditions, Oregon Army National Guard UH-60M Black Hawks step aside and the tandem-rotor Chinook is brought in for the same reasons why it is so beloved in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. The 168th trains specifically for these kinds of operations, which includes sending crews periodically to Colorado for High Altitude Aviation Training.

The Chinook pilots seemed to have tried to make a landing on a small outcropping on the ridge but then moved to plan B when that didn’t appear to be the best route for extraction, although we don’t know for sure why this decision was made. The tactic then put in play to get everyone off the summit is one unique to the Chinook. 

The big chopper executed a ‘pinnacle landing’ right on the slope below the top of the mountain. This is when the crew drops the Chinook’s ramp and balances the helicopter on its rear wheels while personnel climb aboard. In this case, the pilots absolutely stuck their pinnacle landing as the CH-47 looks as if it was temporarily pinned immobile to the snow-covered slope. It was truly amazing work by all involved and you have to remember that those blades are spinning very close to the slope at or below eye level for those rescue climbers. Intense stuff!

The pinnacle landing maneuver has been used for decades by Chinook crews, but in Afghanistan and in special operations around the globe in the Global War On Terror it has become an especially useful and even life-saving tactic. You can read all about it in this past feature of mine.

Helicopter rescue operations on Hood can and have gone very wrong in an instant:

The man, who clearly had no plans of coming down off the Mount Hood before making what was literally a cry for help, was spotted sitting up before being loaded onto an ambulance and taken to the hospital for treatment.

It’s amazing to think that the Chinook crew and the six rescue climbers were willing to risk their lives for someone who didn’t seem to value their own. 

There are true heroes among us.

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