Oregon Rescue Squad Recovers Mount Hood Climber’s Body Months After Her Death

by Jon D. B.

The identity of the Mount Hood climber and her companion have both been revealed after her body was finally able to be reached.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office confirms the body of 34-year-old Pradnya Mohite of Issaquah, Washington was recovered from Oregon’s Mount Hood on Saturday, August 6. Her recovery comes nearly five months after her death on the treacherous part of the mountain.

Mohite was attempting to summit Mount Hood with her climbing partner, Lei Wang, 50, on March 9. Tragically, both fell hundreds of feet down Leuthold Couloir, a steep avalanche chute.

“Ms. Wang sustained critical injuries and Ms. Mohite was declared deceased at the location of the fall,” the sheriff’s office explains. Rescue crews were able to reach Wang at the time. Highly dangerous conditions did not allow for the recovery of Mohite at the time, however. March brings extreme avalanche risk for the mountain alongside challenging climbing conditions.

Clackamas officials would monitor Mount Hood’s weather throughout the summer, awaiting a clearing to retrieve Mohite. Once they and Portland Mountain Rescue saw a window, they set out on August 4 to recover her body.

Ample snow mount early this month allowed closure for the climber’s loved ones, and her tragic story.

Mount Hood Tragedy Highlights Search & Rescue Heroism

After 5 PM on March 9, 2022, both climbers fell over 200 feet down the west side of the mountain, an active volcano of the Cascade Range and popular destination for challenge-seeking climbers.

Both Mohite and Wang were injured in their fall, calling 911. The sheriff’s office would launch a rescue mission alongside Portland Mountain Rescue. Hood River Crag Rats, Mountain Wave Emergency Communications, and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management would also assist.

Initial rescue efforts were a “grueling” 48-hour drudge through deep snow and severe, avalanche-prompting weather. Rescue teams were able to get within 700 feet of the climbers by noon that Sunday. But the onset of another night and threat of avalanche would cease the rescue.

The next morning, AMR’s Reach and Treat Team, the 304th Rescue Squadron, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, Corvallis Mountain Rescue, and the Oregon Army National Guard would all come to aid the difficult rescue. National Guard pilots proved essential with helicopter support.

Eventually, this team was able to reach the summit of Mount Hood. Descending the mountain, the climbers were finally located above the Hourglass bottleneck at the top of Leuthold Couloir, local KATU 2 confirms.Tragically, 34-year-old Pradnya Mohite was dead by the time rescue arrived.

Such extremely hazardous conditions led to “the tough decision” to leave her body on mountain until conditions improved, the Sheriff’s office cites. The focus became rescuing 50-year-old Lei Wang, which was a “long struggle” that ultimately saved her life.

It took 32 individuals, including volunteers, risking life-threatening situations to rescue Wang.