Mt. Hood Climb Observance Day

“The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin

Every year, on the second Wednesday in May, the students and faculty of Oregon Episcopal School, as well as many staff members, parents, alumni, and friends will gather around the Belltower for Mount Hood Climb Observance Day. This tradition began as a way to observe the Mount Hood Climb tragedy that occurred in May of 1986, taking the lives of nine members of our community, including seven students, the school chaplain, and a dean. This was a devastating event that had a ripple effect not only across our school community and Oregon, but also across time, still touching our hearts and guiding our decisions today.

Back in 1986, as we waited for news of our climbers, we were joined in hopes and prayers for a positive outcome by people from the mountaineering community, from our fellow Oregonians, and from others around the world. Those same people shared in our grief, and in the face of unimaginable heartbreak, we witnessed the true meaning of community through their compassion and generosity. Our Mount Hood Climb Service Day began as a way to honor those lost, and to give back to the community that came together in support of OES in our time of need.

At our annual school gathering, we commemorate by name each person we lost, and we pause in a moment of silence and reflection. From there, we call our community into a season of commitment, that asks us to reflect on, commit to, and press toward love, compassion, and justice ongoing.

As an Episcopal school, we affirm that love is stronger than death. Throughout the year, we seek ways to live out our mission and to realize our “power for good.” By commemorating the community’s experience on the anniversary of the Mount Hood Climb tragedy, we reflect the justice, peace, healing, and hope we wish to see in the world.


If you have any questions or comments in regard to our Mount Hood Climb Observance Day, please contact any of our campus Chaplains.

The Rev. Vijendran Sathyaraj

The Rev. Vijendran Sathyaraj

Interim Head Chaplain, Religion and Philosophy Department Chair, Teacher
Melissa Robinson

Melissa Robinson

Middle School Chaplain, Middle School Community Engagement Coordinator, Middle School Religion Teacher, Lower School Interim Chaplain