On August 11, 2013, Sebastian Kinasiewicz of Poland attempted to climb Mt. Hood by the Cooper Spur route. Mr. Kinasiewicz was a Polish soldier participating in drone training at InSitu in Bingen, Washington. According to media accounts, Mr. Kinasiewicz had hoped to place a Polish flag on the summit of Mt. Hood. He was reported to be a novice climber.
Mr. Kinasiewicz was reported missing Monday morning and his car was found at the Tilly Jane trailhead on the north side of Mt. Hood. Shortly after noon on August 12, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office requested Portland Mountain Rescue to assist the Crag Rats in searching for him. At that time, the sheriff was not aware that Mr. Kinasiewicz intended to climb the mountain or by what route. Before PMR members actually entered the field to search, the sheriff’s office obtained new information and determined that the searching would resume the following morning on the Cooper Spur route and the Elliot Glacier.
Early on August 13, a Crag Rat team headed up the Cooper Spur Route. A PMR team ascended the east side of the Elliot Glacier in the fall line from the Cooper Spur Route. Witness reports were received of a lone climber on Cooper Spur on the afternoon of the 11th. The Crag Rat team followed a single set of tracks up the route. The tracks stopped abruptly on ice about 100’ from the summit. Shortly after that discovery, an Army National Guard helicopter arrived and began searching the area below the terminus of the tracks. They quickly spotted a body midway down the east gully on the mountain’s northern face. This gulley is long and steep and poses extreme rock fall hazard when it is not covered in ice or snow.
Based on the extreme hazard posed by the location of the body, the sheriff’s office determined that the body could not be extracted safely by ground crews. The same conclusion was reached with respect to a helicopter extraction using the resources available. Recovery of the body may be possible during winter conditions.
PMR extends its condolences to the Mr. Kinasiewicz’ family and friends and we are disappointed that we cannot immediately bring closure by recovering his body.
We encourage back country travelers to know their route and know the conditions. The Cooper Spur route poses significant dangers and is not an appropriate route for a novice, especially a lone climber. Generally, the Cooper Spur route is not a safe choice once rock becomes exposed in late spring. Multiple fatalities and injuries have occurred on this route due to both falls and rock fall.