In Practice: Christopher Van Tilburg, M.D.

Christopher Van Tilburg, M.D.Christopher Van Tilburg, M.D.
Providence Hood River Occupational and Travel Medicine Clinic

Clinical focus
Occupational health and travel medicine; physician, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Mountain Clinic

Outside the clinic

Member of Crag Rats Search and Rescue; author of 10 books, most recently “Mountain Rescue Doctor: Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature”; editor of Wilderness Medicine magazine

What part of mountain medicine do they not teach in med school?
“Patient assessment and treatment on a mountain is impossible to study in school. You have to be there to learn how to resuscitate a patient in a snowstorm with 40 mph wind, sub-zero temps and darkness falling.”

What’s the most common injury on Mount Hood?
“Climbers get hit from falling rocks, they fall on steep, icy slopes or they get lost in a storm and get hypothermia. It’s a big, dangerous peak.”

Of your search for three missing climbers in the 2006 tragedy, what memory lingers most?
“I’m still amazed that people attempt Mount Hood in poor weather and snow conditions.”

What’s your most memorable rescue?
“I was once up Eagle Creek on a ledge alongside Lower Punch Bowl. My teammates threw down a rope, and a cascade of boulders and rocks nearly hit us. I thought, ‘No way can I get up the cliff safely.’ We ended up calling for a floating stretcher, much to my relief.

“Another time, we went out for two fathers and their sons – the youngest was 3 years old – in Warren Creek Canyon. We found them at 3 a.m., and hiked them out by dawn. Unfortunately, I had to go to work that morning.”

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