Rescue teams save 9 on Mount McLoughlin

Nine hikers lost on Mount McLoughlin were rescued by Jackson County Search and Rescue late Saturday and early Sunday morning.

The hikers were in three separate groups and search crews located two of the groups late Saturday, while another man was found Sunday morning after spending the night on the mountain.

"It was probably one of the strangest nights we've ever had," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters. "That's the most people we had to locate in one night. That one is a record."

None of the hikers was injured or treated.

More than 50 officers from search and rescue crews, including those from Klamath County, were combing the mountain at various times to find the hikers, who were from Southern Oregon.

Lost were two groups of four and a man who was hiking by himself.

Winters said there was some confusion when the man placed the call to 911. He indicated to emergency dispatchers that he was part of one of the groups. Before the dispatchers could confirm, his call failed.

When search and rescue crews brought the two large groups down Saturday night, they noticed one vehicle left in the parking lot.

The man ended up spending the night on the mountain as temperatures plunged to close to freezing.

"We were about to launch the helicopter to find him," Winters said. He was brought down safely.

The winds were relatively calm Saturday night, but the weather had changed markedly by Sunday afternoon.

"If any of them weren't located by (Sunday night), it would have been a game-changer," Winters said.

Hikers getting lost on Mount McLoughlin is an annual problem for search and rescue team.

Winters said he remembers years when as many as 40 people got lost on the mountain.

He said people get fooled by the good weather this time of the year, but forget that sunset comes quickly. Winters said hikers should anticipate more than 5 hours to make the hike.

He said he's tried to get the National Forest Service to install additional signs to help hikers stay on track but to no avail.

"They said they don't want to take away from the natural experience," he said. "At a couple of key points, we need to put up signs and stop this."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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