Snowboarder Dies on Mount Hood's North Face
Friday, May 24, 2002
 
The Memorial Day Weekend holiday got off to an tragic start on Friday when a snowboarder's lifeless body was recovered from the North Face of Mount Hood.
 
According to news reports, the victim, a 30-year-old Argentine National, and a friend spent Thursday evening on the 11,239-foot summit of Mount Hood with plans to snowboard down the South Side climbing route.  However, early Friday morning, the victim made a last minute decision to attempt the extremely difficult Cooper Spur route on the Northeast side of the mountain.  This decision cost him his life.
 
Evidently, the man successfully completed a few turns on his snowboard and then fell on the 50+ degree slope.  Unable to self arrest, the boarder tumbled out of control over 2,000 vertical feet down the rocky and ice covered mountain.  He landed on the upper portion of the Eliot Glacier, just below its bergschrund at approximately 9,100 feet above sea level.  The victim's friend, still on the summit, immediately called the Hood River County Sheriff to report the accident.
A descriptive graphic of the accident site.
 
Sheriff's deputies spotted the victim, lying motionless and still bound to his broken snowboard, from their plane during mid morning.  Around noon that day, a Pave Hawk helicopter from the Air Force Reserve Command 939th Rescue Wing's 304th Rescue Squadron dropped two rescuers onto the upper portion of the Eliot Glacier to retrieve the victim's body.
 
Reports state that, amazingly, the snowboarder left his climbing equipment at the summit - even though he planned to climb back up the Cooper Spur route after completing his run.  This steep North side route is very dangerous to ascend without proper climbing gear, including an ice axe and belay devices.
 
Skiing or snowboarding off the summit of Mount Hood requires a great deal of skill, and it is advisable to use safety equipment, such as a helmet and self arrest devices.  Skiing or snowboarding the South Side route is rather common, but it is quite unusual for persons to attempt the Cooper Spur route on the North Side of the mountain.  In this case, the attempt proved to be fatal.