My Mt. Hood Climb Service Day Experience

by Colin Bock

In May of 1986, a group of high school students and teachers set out on the traditional climb of Mount Hood.  There had been reports that day of a potential storm, however, the group decided to climb anyway, but would descend if the conditions worsened.  

However, this promise to descend was not kept. Instead, as the conditions of some of the climbers worsened, materials were lost in the devastating storm.  In an attempt to solve the problematic conditions outside, the group leader and a student or two descended the mountain in dire search of help.  Meanwhile, the students who remained on the mountain were told to rest inside a snow cave.

But this snow cave was not quite sizable enough for every student, so some of the students were forced to take shifts outside.  The conditions were continuously getting worse, and so was the health of the climbers.  Most already had hypothermia, and at that point, a group of three students attempted to descend the mountain together.  

Their bodies were found later.  Meanwhile, the news of the disaster spread like wildfire, and the school could barely keep its doors open while the search intensified for the remaining students and teachers staying in the snow cave.  Very few people managed to survive the snow cave.

Such tragic events such as these really make us think about ways we can make the world a better place.  In addition, our school was gifted with the gift of service when this tragedy occurred roughly thirty years ago, and it is only fair for us to pay off our gratitudes to them via the same method by which they gave them to us, service.  

For my perennial day of service, I volunteered to work with children at Providence Child Center’s hospital for medically fragile children.  Because our group was filled with numerous people, we had to take turns rotating in and out of the garden and playing with the kids.  

I made a few friends while I was there.  I met Callie, a girl who had just been told she could finally go home.  She was by far the most functional of the group, and her going-away party was being held in the afternoon of our day at the hospital.  

To celebrate, we were playing a ball game where we would pass the ball around, calling out the names of the other children.  This game truly had a lasting impact on me, and I almost cried to be quite honest.  

Seeing children unable to partake in movement of most kinds really made me think.  My pledge by the end of the day was to form a lasting relationship with a variety of different children, because they should not have to live with such difficulty.  

Overall, I think that I wouldn’t have been so emotional while serving out at Providence if it weren’t for the tragic backstory of the Mount Hood climb disaster, and the service the school was provided with truly helped our school provide world-class education to 800 students and their families.

Our school, I guarantee it, would be closed, a distant memory, if it weren’t for their help, and that debt can never be repaid, no matter the effort we put in.

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