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Rescued Mount Hood skier acknowledges mistakes, misjudges weather

Asit Rathod speaks to reporters after his ordeal on Mount Hood on Friday, March 11, 2016. (KATU Photo)

An experienced Mount Hood skier and mountaineer is home safe after a heroic effort to find him in a whiteout.

Asit Rathod, 43, from Portland, planned to summit Mount Hood and ski down. He left Timberline Lodge around 5 a.m. Friday morning.

"The bad weather was supposed to move in later today or tomorrow," Rathod told KATU's Chris Liedle. "I just misgaged it."

At about 8,600 feet in elevation, Rathod says the weather deteriorated and visibility dropped to near zero. Rathod scrapped his plans for a summit and began skiing down, but became disoriented in the clouds.

"I found himself looking over a cliff edge," he said. "I knew I was in trouble when I was on top of the moraine because I have been out there before."

Rathod skied into what is known as Mississippi Head, a steep, rocky cliff wall.

"Immediately I stopped," Rathod said. "I had no visibility at all at that point, so I knew I had to call for help."

At 9 a.m., Rathod used his cellphone and dialed 911. He told rescuers where he was and decided to stay put.

"They let me know that those guys were on the way, and I kept my head straight and just smiled and kept warm."

Deputies and volunteers from Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue, Portland Mountain Rescue and Mountain Wave Search & Rescue left Timberline Lodge around 12:45 p.m. Four hours later, they found Rathod safe, uninjured and in good condition.

"These guys put their lives on hold, their families on hold and their lives in jeopardy for guys like us," he said.

Rathod acknowledged he made some mistakes. He says he should have turned back at the first sign of foul weather. He also forgot his GPS device at home and failed to charge his phone battery before ascending.

"For a guy like me to make a mistake like this is a really good example of why people should not climb in weather, to be smart to come prepared," he said.

Rathod is an experienced climber. He says he's summited Mount Hood more than 200 times. He's currently writing a book called, Faces of Hood, that chronicles all the routes to and from the summit.

"This doesn't stop me, but it's just a good reminder that you need to make smart choices," Rathod said. "You need to come prepared and Mount Hood is going to do what it's going to do and you don't have a say over it."

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