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Mount Hood hikers say they relied on exercise, pep talks

Christina Redl, shown Tuesday, received a head injury when she and two other hikers slid over a ledge. (associated press)

SALEM, Ore. -- The three hikers rescued after a fall and an icy night on Mount Hood said yesterday that their survival techniques included exercise and pep talks.

Matty Bryant and Kate Hanlon, both 34, appeared on television interviews with fellow climber Christina Redl, 26, who still had dark bruises around her eyes. Bryant brought his dog, Velvet, who helped the climbers stay warm as they waited to be found.

"Matty had us go through different kinds of exercises . . . so our muscles didn't tense up. He made us eat and drink so we didn't get dehydrated," Hanlon said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"We would call 911 on the hour, and every half hour I would ask Matty for another pep talk. He gave these fantastic pep talks," Hanlon said.

The three climbers set out on Saturday with five other friends -- all in their 20s and 30s and from the Portland area -- to scale the 11,239-foot mountain, Oregon's tallest.

But as they started their descent in blowing snow Sunday, the three -- roped together with Velvet -- went over an icy ledge.

Redl told NBC's "Today" she was briefly knocked unconscious, possibly by striking a piece of equipment. Realizing she was injured, her companions said they used a hat to stop Redl's head wound from bleeding. "There was quite a bit of blood, so the first thing we wanted to do was stop the bleeding and keep her head warm," Bryant said on "Today."

Amid the publicity about Velvet's role, some specialists said taking a pet dog up a mountain for warmth and companionship was foolhardy. But Bryant said the weather was fine when they started out. "On a fair weather day, it would be an OK trip for a dog," he told "Good Morning America."

"When the weather turned bad, it certainly was not a good place for a dog."

Still, everyone was glad she was with them.

The climbers had an electronic locator unit that helped rescuers find them. On Tuesday, a state House panel opened hearings in Salem on a bill to require that climbers who intend to go above 10,000 feet on Mount Hood from November through March carry the locators.

"Certainly the timing was right," Republican State Representative John Lim, who had introduced the bill after three climbers died in December, told the committee. "Instead of losing lives, they were able to save lives this time."

But veteran mountaineers urged legislators to reject the bill. Some warned that requiring locators -- easily activated in a crisis -- would foster passivity.

Another said nothing can replace basic common sense when it comes to keeping people safe.

The devices weigh 8 ounces and can be rented for $5.

Lim said he introduced the bill after December's accident in which three out-of-state men perished after they got caught in a blizzard near the summit.

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler, who led the effort in December, said requiring locators would cut down on the cost of rescues and reduce the risk to the searchers.

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