Home May 2013 George Fox student survives 6 days on Mount Hood

George Fox student survives 6 days on Mount Hood


PORTLAND — Speaking to the media last month from her bed at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, George Fox University senior Mary Owen acknowledged her Spring Break adventure didn’t reflect consistently good decisions on her part.
But Owen — whose survival after six days alone and injured on Mount Hood made national news, including NBC’s Today Show — said she learned some positive lessons as a result. She told the Newberg Graphic newspaper she realized she had been “careless” with her life and that she needed to be in more regular communication with her loved ones. She credits God with preserving her life and she plans to pursue her calling to be a missionary and Bible translator.
Described as an adventurous spirit and experienced hiker, Owen, 23, was struck by a whiteout on the mountain and wound up going in a wrong direction into a canyon at about 4,600-feet level. In the early morning darkness on Monday, March 27 she slipped and fell about 40 feet on rocky terrain, severely cutting her leg.
Making a little snow hollow, she decided to get some sleep and try to trek out the next day. But when she awoke, she found she couldn’t lift her leg. She spent her first days in the snow hollow drifting in and out of sleep, melting snow to drink in water bottles in the sun and carefully stretching out her small provision of food. Her cell phone got no reception in the canyon.
Fearing an avalanche, Owen scooted across the snow to a tree cluster, where she dug a new hollow and gathered sticks to build a brief fire to warm her hands and dry her clothes somewhat. But by Wednesday she ran out of the nutrition bars, crackers, noodles and seeds she had brought.
As she drifted in and out of sleep over the next couple of days, Owen experienced exhaustion-induced and increasingly bizarre delusions. One, for example, was of a George Fox acquaintance who offered to give her a ride home on her dragon.
During her more lucid moments in the daylight hours, Owen was curled in a fetal position inside a jacket, poncho and sleeping bag liner, or sitting on her climbing haness and ground tarp. She wondered repeatedly why no one was apparently looking for her; before the trip she had e-mailed a friend that she had expected to be gone only about 13 hours and would return by Monday night.
But by Wednesday, people were indeed looking for her. Izzy Freeman, a George Fox roommate, had contacted Owen’s family, who phoned police. Deputies found Owen’s car in the Timberline Lodge parking lot on Thursday, and search efforts widened on Friday and Saturday.
Friday morning, Owen awoke with a sense of peace and believing that many thousands of people were praying for her. She felt she would be rescued that day. Around sunset she saw planes circling overhead, but they left.
But at midmorning Saturday, an Oregon Natonal Guard crew spotted her and hoisted her off the mountain by helicopter. Although suffering frostbite on both feet as well as her leg injury, Owen is making a full recovery.