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Couloir

Climber death on North Side of Hood

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Anyone know anything more about this. I was up there yesterday on Cooper Spur and the Eliot and it must have happened after I left, or over on Sunshine.

 

Oregonian

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My wife has worked with the victim (he's a doc from Eugene) intermittently over the years. She freaked out a bit this morning when she heard the name, and immediately told me I was banned from ever climbing Hood again. I think that was in jest...

 

She said he was a really good guy.

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Wow. My thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends.

I was going to write up a double TR on this route today. Not sure I should now. I climbed Cooper Spur Saturday night Sunday morning (26th-27th) and didn’t see anyone coming up behind me. I didn’t descend the route for just this sort of reason. There was defiantly rock fall even as I was climbing. In fact I kept thinking how grateful I was that I was solo because of it. So I can just imagine what it was like later in the day as the sun warmed up the rock. My ride waited at Cloud Cap till I topped out and then drove around to Timberline to pick me up. If I recall, he told me on the radio that 2 climbers left there at around 4am. I told him I didn’t think they would be coming up Cooper because of the time and sun. It was bright and sunny (and warm) up high looking out at a sea of lower clouds. This makes it hard to smile about my climb today, knowing that on that same route just hours later…

 

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Last time I was up there, July 28 of 2002, was maybe the most scared I've ever been in the mountains. Rocks were coming down the not-so-pearly gates, including one the size of an engine block.

 

Definitely, condolences to the family and friends. This is a dangerous time of year to be up there.

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Maine-iac and I were up near and on Diamond Peak this weekend and we very nearly had the smae thing happen to us. I mistepped on a large backpack size rock and it took a b-ine for tom. Luckily he was aware and had room to get out of the way, but man I feel so bad for this climber's family and friends. It really is a tragedy.

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Most of the time, you don't hear those rocks rolling down the snow slopes...

 

One of those silent but deadly bastards almost took me out late last year.

 

These warm temps including high overnight lows gives one pause.

 

d

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Hey Jerk,

I believe I talked with you as you summited and came down the SS. I was taking my wife up. There was very little rockfall on the SS when I was up there. People were being very cavalier as always.

 

I met the victim and his son. They were very nice. He had summited over 40 times. I was concerned they were descending that side. I saw them at 1115 and they werent hurrying to get off the summit.

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Wow... That really sucks... Terrible news, my condolences to the family. I know your pain, I have been there my self.

 

 

 

I am sure Ivan will come along anytime soon, and tell us about how "immortal" stuff like this makes him feel.

 

 

On another note:

 

I am suprised that anyone is coming back down the spur in these conditions. Two weeks ago I watched the entire north side gullies erupt into a full on rock slide avalanche... That was around ten AM.

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Very sad. Does anyone know which route Dr. Lee's party ascended? My hunch is Cooper Spur, but some press accounts say he'd climbed one of Hood's "most challenging routes" (though I always discount by a lot whatever the mainstream press says about climbing).

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Wow... That really sucks... Terrible news, my condolences to the family. I know your pain, I have been there my self.

 

 

 

I am sure Ivan will come along anytime soon, and tell us about how "immortal" stuff like this makes him feel.

 

 

On another note:

 

I am suprised that anyone is coming back down the spur in these conditions. Two weeks ago I watched the entire north side gullies erupt into a full on rock slide avalanche... That was around ten AM.

?

 

i suspect you don't understand what i was saying earlier, but it really doesn't matter

 

condolences for certain, not that those empty words mean a goddamn thing when it's your dad/son/brother dead - this is why folks oughta be climbing rock this time of year or alpining further north and not mucking around on the sides of sloughing slag-heaps w/ scads of fools in godforsaken oregon

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?

 

i suspect you don't understand what i was saying earlier, but it really doesn't matter

 

 

Maybe I misunderstood you in that other post that you and I both know what I am referring to.

 

I guess it's stories like this one that leave a lump in my throat, because it's exactly how I lost my Father. I get emotional thinking about it, and sometimes I get hyper-sensitive about the subject. :cry:

 

Yet on the other hand, I continue to alpine climb even though I have had the worst of the worst happen in one of my own climbs. But it has yet to make me feel "immortal"... Quite the opposite.

 

 

To each their own.

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Gary and Devin climbed Sunshine - The group of hiking/climbing friends in Eugene will miss him greatly - I was fortunate to spend two weeks in El Potrero Chico with him and Tom Bauman drinking cervasa/climbing/hiking/drinking cervasa.

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DrDre! Did you just call me a Jerk?! :fahq: I enjoyed talking with you and your wife. You’re a lucky guy to get to climb with your wife. Mine would look at me like I was cracked if I even suggested it. And now that I have thought about it, she would be right!

Anyways, now the news is that they came up Sunshine and down Cooper. That explains why I never saw them on the route behind me. I did see two climbing up snow dome during my climb. And it may have been them.

Anyways, nice job getting up and down safe. In spite of those being cavalier, like the guy that was ahead of you in the Levis with blown out knees!

 

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I think I looked at you like you where "cracked" when I let "the Jerk" try to operate my camera on the summit of hood a few years ago....

 

 

All he did was make fun of my name the entire walk back down the Hogsback....

 

"Otto huh?, isn't that the driver from "The Simpsons"?

 

"Did you know that a lot of Nazi's where named Otto?"

 

"Whats with that old school ice axe, when you have a modern "ice tool" strapped on your pack"...

 

Blah blah blah....

 

Yeah, the dude lives up to his Avatar name for sure. I almost kicked his stashed trekking poles and pickets off the hogsback that morning too. I would have never regretted it...

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Gary Lee was my long-ago partner and since then a good friend; from the opposite coast, I've followed his adventures and growing family over the years. I was deeply saddened to hear this news yesterday, that he died on a climb with his son.

 

After a while I went upstairs and scanned a bunch of almost 30-year-old slides, from our climbs together on Pokomoonshine, Smugglers Notch, Cannon, Cathedral, Mt. Washington and Acadia. Back when Gary drove a Rabbit and had even worse fashion sense than I did, our 4-year-old daughter found him very charismatic. She'd shout "Gary Lee!" with delight when he pulled into our driveway. Suddenly the old slides seemed precious, like something to hang on to.

 

Gary was just a great guy. I doubt you'll find anyone who knew him who thought otherwise. I know he saved many lives.

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Even though we 'understand' the loss you (and Dr. Lee's family) have suffered, we don't pretend to feel the blow in the same way. We are grieved when one of our brethren doesn't make it home, and the comments of friends and family help us to grieve with them. So thanks for letting us in.

 

I happened to be on Cooper Spur for a day hike on Sunday, and here are some of the photographs that I took. They may be helpful for those friends or family who happen along here and who are not too familiar with Mount Hood, and especially the north face.

 

The North Face of Mount Hood, from Inpsiration Point (I think) inspiration.jpg

 

Looking up the Cooper Spur and out over the Eliot Glacier.

clouds5.jpg

 

The Cooper Spur route to the summit. I got a little aggressive with the polarizer, and the sky went black.

snowfield.jpg

 

Upper section of the Cooper Spur route.

summit.jpg

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Otto is it? You having a bad morning? From your 2 post this morning looks like you might need more coffee. Or are you just trying to earn my moniker?

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Good thoughts blurpy. Here are some of mine from on the route Sunday morning. And again to the family and friends, my condolences. And if the family would like any or all of my pictures from the route that day just let me know.

P7271443_Large_.JPG

P7271460_Large_.JPG

 

 

P7271464_Large_.JPG

P7271470_Large_.JPG

 

P7271479_Large_.JPG

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Otto is it? You having a bad morning? From your 2 post this morning looks like you might need more coffee. Or are you just trying to earn my moniker?

 

 

I guess I am just feeling a bit "assholeish"

 

 

 

 

 

The "too many beer :poke::brew: s club" will do that to ya... :crazy:

 

 

 

Not to worry though, I was up there in the last few weeks too...

 

IMG_0109.jpg

Edited by Frikadeller

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Smugglers Notch, Vermont, 1979:

 

79_GaryLee_Smugglers_1b.jpg

 

 

Chitlin Corner, Acadia, Maine, 1981:

 

81_GaryLee_ChitlinCorner_1b.jpg

Edited by LHamilton

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from the Oregonian:

 

 

Son recounts father's death on Mount Hood's Cooper Spur

Rescuers say not wearing a helmet was just one of a series of mistakes made by the climber

 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

HELEN JUNG

The Oregonian Staff

 

Devin Lee, concentrated as he descended a Mount Hood snowfield Sunday afternoon: Drop a couple feet, plant the ice ax, drop another couple feet.

 

His technique -- honed over four years of climbing with his father, Dr. Gary Lee -- was the only thing Devin would let himself think about.

 

Just seconds earlier, he had seen his father struck by a watermelon-size boulder that came hurtling down the mountain. The 55-year-old cancer specialist tumbled down a steep gully and slid out of view.

 

As Devin descended, he came across the bicycle cap his father had been wearing. The Stanford University junior put it on and kept searching, he recalled Tuesday. But it would be several hours before rescue crews would locate the Eugene oncologist, who had been killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

 

Two days after the accident, a Portland Mountain Rescue veteran questioned the men's decision to climb without helmets.

 

All climbers on any Mount Hood route should wear helmets, said Steve Rollins, one of the rescue team members. "There is too much loose rock," he said.

 

Rollins also criticized the decision to descend via the dangerous Cooper Spur route, which is more technically difficult than the mountain's popular southside routes.

 

But Gary Lee, who had summited Mount Hood more than 40 times, knew the mountain "from all angles . . . and at all times of the year," said his wife, Dr. Stephanie Harris. And considering the size and speed of the boulder that struck Lee, his family doubted a helmet would have helped.

 

"That same question was in my head," Harris said. "On that particular day, he made that choice and felt that it wasn't necessary. . . . The reality in this particular instance? Chances are it wouldn't have made any difference."

 

 

A life of climbing

 

Climbing -- as well as hiking and skiing -- was a passion Gary Lee shared with his family. While Lee and Harris were dating in medical school, he introduced the Southern California girl to his beloved Mount Hood. She grew fearful at 8,000 feet, she recalled, and they turned around. But she went again -- although that time they got lost with two other students, overnighted on the mountain and came out a different route than planned.

 

Lee kept climbing, taking on peaks in the Himalayas and the Andes, his wife said, reserving about three weeks each year to climb. She always felt an undercurrent of fear, knowing the risks associated with mountain climbing.

 

As much as his practice meant to Lee, Harris said, so did his family, including his parents, Dr. Gilbert Prentiss Lee and Patricia Brownell Lee of Portland, and two brothers, Dr. Gilbert Brownell Lee of Portland and Granville Lee of Clackamas.

 

Helping his 21-year-old daughter, Alison, and his son develop their own independence was a priority, she said. Alison, an avid cross-country skier and a senior at Harvey Mudd College, persuaded him to pick up skate-skiing, which the father and daughter often did together. And when Devin was 16, Lee and his son started going on climbs together.

 

The treks were outings for the father and son to talk and through which Lee hoped to help instill "a warrior spirit" in his son. And about a year ago, Devin recalled, his father complimented him, telling him, "I can definitely see you grow up to be a warrior."

 

 

Boulder strikes

 

On Sunday, as the two descended, they found Mount Hood more exposed than they expected, Devin recalled. But when they had made it to the snowfield they felt they had reached relative safety. They unroped and put on their crampons.

 

But after proceeding a short while, Devin saw the boulder topple his father. Lee, his son recalled, did not utter a sound.

 

"I shouted after him," he said, watching as his father "was ragdolling down" the snowfield. Devin then descended after him, shouting out to anyone who might hear.

 

"All I could hear was my echo," he said.

 

But soon two hikers who had walked up a ridge past the top of the Cooper Spur trail heard Devin below them. Lonnie Feather and Bill Weismann made their way to Devin and called for help on their cell phones.

 

They stayed with Devin until evening, calling Harris, and taking him to his grandparents' Portland home.

 

"There is no way that I can possibly tell or express my gratitude to all of the climbers and rescue people," Harris said. "I don't even know how."

 

The accident is still setting in for the family. Devin has worn Lee's cap ever since the accident except for letting Alison wear it briefly.

 

"It's a little small for me," Devin acknowledged. "It doesn't matter."

 

 

A dangerous route

 

It is impossible to know whether a helmet would have saved Gary Lee. But rescuers also challenged the decision to descend Mount Hood's Cooper Spur route instead of the more popular and less challenging south route from Timberline Lodge.

 

"We were talking about it during the recovery," Rollins said. "No way would we go down Cooper Spur this time of year. It is way too dangerous, way past its prime."

 

Rollins also urged climbers to wear helmets, as well as pursue safer routes. The recovery put the lives of 12 climbers in jeopardy, he said, and was at the outer edge of the envelope for safe rescues and recoveries.

 

But Lee -- a world-class rower and avid skier, cyclist and swimmer -- always seemed able to do anything, his son said.

 

"He's living life like everyone wants to," he said, "but no one knows how."

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good article and writeup and the rescue folks conclusions are spot on - i can't think of another place on hood that more justifies wearing a brain bucket then the upper part of the spur - i hope your family soon forgets this tragedy and remembers just the good times that live on in your memories

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