Friday, March 31, 2023

Man Raised in Mendocino County Goes Missing on Oregon’s Mount Jefferson

The Summit of Mount Jefferson [Picture from taken by Eric.Prado]

Steven Van Pelt, a Mendocino County man who was living in Salem, Oregon, went missing on Friday, July 23, 2021, while descending Mount Jefferson, the state’s second-tallest peak. Rescuers have been searching for Van Pelt since Friday to no avail.

A press release from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office indicates Van Pelt was reported missing after he fell among “extreme mountainous terrain.” A witness to Van Pelt’s fall told authorities they lost “sight of Van Pelt after he fell several hundred feet.”

The search for Van Pelt has rallied prayers and concerns for his fate on local social media. 

A Ukiah Daily Journal article from August 11, 1989, indicates Van Pelt moved to Mendocino County when he was 2-years-old when his family relocated to the county for work.

There are multiple entries between 2001-2002 in the Ukiah Daily Journal recognizing Van Pelt for earning grades good enough to make Honor Roll while attending Eagle Peak Middle School. 

A LinkedIn profile for Van Pelt indicates he works at Salem’s Morning Star Community Church as a Production Director.

Oregon’s Mount Jefferson stands at 10,495 feet and is part of the Cascade Range. According to, the mountain’s summit pinnacle requires “Class 4 scrambling on very steep, usually ice-encrusted rock, it is considered by some to be the most difficult of the higher volcanos.”

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office press release states rescue efforts have been complicated by the nature of the terrain which is described as “extremely dangerous and requir[ing] technical mountaineers to traverse the mountainside.” The mountain’s “snow, cliffs, large boulders, crevices, and rock scree” have hindered rescuers’ ability to locate Van Pelt.

A number of search and rescue agencies are involved with the search for Van Pelt including Corvallis Mountain Rescue, Eugene Mountain Rescue, Deschutes Mountain Rescue, Portland Mountain Rescue. Helicopters have searched for him from LifeFlight and the United States Army National Guard.

Other agencies are involved due to Mount Jefferson’s proximity to county borders including Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Emergency Management, Idanha Fire Department, and Detroit Fire Department.



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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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