Falling rock kills climber on Oregon’s Mount Hood | AspenTimes.com

Falling rock kills climber on Oregon’s Mount Hood

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

HOOD RIVER, Ore. ” A 55-year-old physician who had scaled Mount Hood died after being hit by falling rock on his way down, authorities said.

Mountaineers planned to start climbing Monday afternoon to retrieve the victim’s body. The man, part of a climbing party, had descended to about 9,000 feet on the 11,239-foot peak when the accident happened Sunday.

The victim was identified as Dr. Gary Lee, a cancer specialist who had practiced in Eugene since 1984. His body was spotted Sunday evening by helicopter crews from the Oregon National Guard.

Lee, an experienced climber, was with his son, Devon, when a rock dislodged from the ice above and hit him, the Hood River County sheriff’s office said in a statement. He fell about 1,000 feet before coming to rest in an area of rock and ice above Eliot Glacier, the sheriff’s office said.

Additional details about Lee’s climbing party were not immediately available.

Steve Rollins of Portland Mountain Rescue said he expected 13 people to begin climbing toward Lee’s body, and said the operation might last until Tuesday or later.

The mountaineers will figure out how to get the body down after checking the conditions, he said. Climbers in summer must deal with the threat from loose rocks and softening snow.

“In many cases the rock is glued together with ash the consistency of toothpaste,” he said.

Lee had an interest in palliative (pain-relieving) care for terminally ill patients, his practice’s Web site said. He was medical director of hospice at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

In December 2006, climber Kelly James of Texas died of hypothermia in the same area of the mountain. His body was found in a snow cave, but the bodies of the two other men in his party, Brian Hall of Texas and Jerry Cooke of New York, have never been found.

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