Christopher Van Tilburg, '94
Mountain Rescue Doctor: Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature
By Christopher Van Tilburg, ’94
St. Martin’s Press, 2007
Buy this book online at University Book Store
Van Tilburg, who received his doctorate from UW medicine, is a ski patrol and emergency wilderness physician, and these are riveting first-hand accounts of his most memorable Hood River rescues.
“Hood River, April. County Sheriff Office text message: ‘High Angle Rescue. White Salmon River.’ An hour later I’m dangling on the end of a 50-meter rope. A woman is precariously perched on an unstable log jam deep in the slot canyon. Instead of my usual doctor’s scrubs, I wear heavy canvas ‘poison oak’ pants, a life vest, a rescue backpack, a helmet, a climbing harness, and heavy leather gloves. Overhead thwock, thwock, thwock: a Blackhawk helicopter zooming up the canyon. It’s Army MAST, Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic, from Yakima. The woman shivers uncontrollably, blood spattered all over her clothing. I stabilize her injuries and balance tenuously on the logs to keep from falling into the icy water. The hovering Blackhawk drops a cable. Daylight is waning. We get her to the hospital.
Cloud Cap, June. Rescue mission on my birthday. Up Cloud Cap Road in the Mount Hood National Forest. At mile four, a black bear sprints across. We go through dirty snowbanks nestled in the switchbacks, then up Cooper Spur Trail into the Mount Hood Wilderness. An hour later we find the missing climber.”