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Man climbs McLoughlin four times in a day

After climbing Mount McLoughlin three times in one day two years ago, mountaineer Michael Biggs thought he had one more in him.

"We always joked about maybe doing it four times, which is a terrible idea because three was the toughest thing I ever did," Biggs says.

That all changed Sunday when the 50-year-old manager of Peerless Hotel in Ashland ascended the 9,479-foot mountain four times in a 24-hour period, covering 44 miles and nearly 32,000 feet of elevation change.

"I'm still recovering," Biggs says. "That was an absurd amount of effort, to say the least."

Nestled in the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area, Mount McLoughlin is a steep-sided lava cone sitting atop a volcano that erupted about 30,000 years ago. Forest Service Trail No. 3716 snakes just under 4,000 feet in elevation from the parking lot to the top.

It's a mountain Biggs knows well. He had already climbed it 14 times this year.

"It's my spiritual core," he says. "And it's my training gym."

Biggs' feat began at 2:30 a.m. when he started up the 5.5-mile trail alone. He hit snow around 7,500 feet, causing him to post-hole knee-deep at times, he says.

He finished the first two climbs alone. His wife, Dawn Mellon, who is also a mountain climber, joined him for the third ascent, and a hiking partner shadowed him on the final trip up and down the volcano.

"My security blanket," Biggs says. "It was dark, and I knew I was going to be tired. I didn't want to do it alone."

Biggs did the climb as a fundraiser, amassing more than $1,000 through a Facebook page for Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Even though Mount McLoughlin is outside of the monument, Biggs says he wanted to do something for the nonprofit group, which helped serve as motivation, as well.

He took Monday and Tuesday off work to convalesce, with his quadriceps still howling Tuesday afternoon.

"Other than to change my socks, I literally didn't sit down for 24 hours," Biggs says. "It was a really long day."

Clammers returning to Clatsop beaches

Razor clamming on Clatsop County beaches will reopen Sunday after a 16-month closure over public-health concerns, but don't expect a bountiful harvest this fall.

Razor clamming in this very popular stretch of Oregon beaches has been closed since July 2016 due to high levels of biotoxins found in the clams, which was outside of the regular July 15-Sept. 30 closure to protect young clams.

Clatsop County beaches are Oregon's the most popular for clamming and they account for 90 percent of the statewide clam harvest.

Oregon Department of Agriculture tests shellfish toxins twice per month, as tides permit, to determine whether razor clams and other shellfish are safe to eat. Results from ODA’s two most recent tests (Sept. 22 and Sept. 8) showed clams were safe.

The last time Clatsop County’s season was open, in summer 2016, razor clammers experienced a record year, with most reaching their daily bag limit of 15 in a short time. Clammers will find different conditions when they return Sunday.

In 2016, abundance peaked and surveys estimated 16 million razor clams in the 18-mile stretch between the Columbia River south jetty and Tillamook Head, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This year, the estimate is just 3 million clams in that area, the agency announced. That's the fewest since the survey began in 2004 and follows a trend of poor clam recruitment seen along Oregon and Washington beaches, ODFW reported.

Though fewer, the clams appear to be larger than normal, averaging about 4.5 inches.

As always, the bag limit for razor clams is the first 15 dug, with no sorting or releasing allowed.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtfribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Mount McLoughlin