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Woman survives falling hundreds of feet on Mt. Hood: "I owe them my life"

A woman was rescued by local officials in a "complex mission" after falling hundreds of feet on Oregon's Mount Hood. 

The woman, identified by CBS affiliate KOIN as Leah Brown, was climbing the mountain around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25 when she slipped and fell, suffering injuries. She was climbing the mountain's South Side, a glacier climb that is popular but dangerous and responsible for several deaths on the mountain, according to The Mountain Project, which collates information on hiking routes. According to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, which participated in Brown's rescue, Brown was descending the mountain near the summit when she fell. 

Members of Portland Mountain Rescue witnessed Brown's fall, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. They were able to reach Brown, stabilize her and provide initial medical care for her injuries, the sheriff's office said. 

Rescuers with Leah Brown. Portland Mountain Rescue

Five public agencies and another volunteer group were also involved in the rescue — it took seven hours to gather the resources necessary to get Brown off the mountain, the sheriff's office said, and the Portland Mountain Rescue team kept her warm during that period. Brown told KION that she doesn't remember much of that period. 

"My sense of time for that chunk…it's really not there," she said. "That's the part I don't remember all of it."

Rescuers used "complex rope systems" to transport Brown down the mountain, the sheriff's office said, carrying her in a litter to a snow ridge where she was transferred to another litter. That second litter was then carried down to a parking lot. The Portland Mountain Rescue said that the rescue was complicated by winter conditions on the mountain. 

"Mountain rescue is a technical endeavor that requires numerous skilled rescuers, experienced sheriff's deputies, coordinated leadership, and dedication to our mountaineering community," said Portland Mountain Rescue in a statement. "Mt. Hood is not a beginner mountain — especially in winter conditions. The short days and lower temperatures mean that the snow tends to be very hard and icy, and the route conditions tend to be much steeper and technical. ... Only those with expert mountaineering and ice climbing skills should attempt Mt. Hood in winter, especially when there have been long dry spells with no precipitation. Appropriate and thorough training is critical." 

Portland Mountain Rescue with Leah Brown.  Portland Mountain Rescue

At about 9:30 p.m., 10 hours after her fall, Brown arrived at the parking lot and was transported to an area hospital.

KION reported that Brown had a concussion and bruises, but no broken bones. Brown said she owes rescuers her life. 

"I owe them my life," she told KION. "I wouldn't have made it off without them."

Brown told KION that she has been climbing the mountain for years and intends to return in "baby steps" after she's finished recovering. 

"I might snowshoe hike first and like, go back to the bunny hill. But no, I'm not not done," she said. "I love going up them, I love going down them. I like going around them. That's my happy place."

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