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JasonG

Accident on NF of Shuksan today?

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Heard through the grapevine about a possible fatality on the NF of Shuksan today. Anyone have any details?

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Terrible.

 

We witnessed many large point releases on multiple aspects (mainly S and W) this weekend - often several in one zone. It will take some time yet to sort out this snow pack.

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In the early 80's we hiked to Price Lake and the scene of what sounds like a similar accident.

 

Sorry for your loss.

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I didn't know the man but was always impressed by the style of his TRs here. My sympathies to his family and friends.

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Agreed. I had only interacted virtually with John over the years, but enjoyed his contributions to the site and his images. My sincere condolences to his friends and family.

 

These accidents are the hardest for me, because of how close to home it hits. It sounded like John was similar to me in a lot of ways (like my friends TJ, Dallas, and Henning who also died in the mountains), and each of these accidents cause me to reevaluate my approach to climbing/skiing. I haven't found the answer though.

 

 

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To John's family, and to those who knew him, I wish my deepest condolences. John seems like a man worth knowing, and I regret having only crossed paths with him in the virtual world. May his brightest qualities, the ones that hurt the most to think about, bring you inspiration, guidance, and love in the the difficult days ahead. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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John (46) is survived by his son Dylan (7), daughter Lila (5) and lovely wife Jill. He was born in Indiana and grew up in Evanston, IL and Wayne, PA. He attended Lafayette College and moved to Seattle in '93. He was a web developer and was deeply involved in the ultimate, soccer and mountaineering communities as well as an avid reader and letter writer.

 

luckjiff@gmail.com

 

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no no no no fuck fuck fuck

oh man, he's one of the most wonderful people I've known

fuck damn it

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So sorry to hear this.

 

Condolences to the friends and family of the fallen climber.

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for every one of us living in this world means waiting for our end

let he who can achieve glory before death

when a warrior is gone that will be his best and only bulwark

 

:(

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A man can die but once

We owe God a death

He that dies this year is quit for the next

 

 

Never met Jon but appreciated his blog posts on Wildsnow. How tragic.

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Long time looker, first time poster. Unfortunately, my first post is a miserable one-- I was climbing next to John Cooper yesterday when he was taken away.

 

Not sure if a TR is appropriate, but thought I'd provide details in this forum seeing as many of the folks that John highly respected have chimed in. John was one of my closest friends off the mountains, and the person I most trusted as a partner in the mountains. We had climbed and skied together in the Cascades regularly in all seasons for the past 15 years. I miss him terribly already.

 

Our plan had been to climb the north face of Shuksan and ski down the best available depending on conditions. We had attempted the trip 10 days earlier with another friend, but very wet conditions held us to an approach recon mission that included a high point of 4400' on the east side of the White Salmon valley, prospecting a creek bed on the way out, and schawking up the "clear cut" below the starting point. The clear skies brought John and I hope for a second try.

 

Yesterday we left the car at 5AM and were at the saddle above Price Lake at 820. We snacked and enjoyed the incredible setting, and I took this last picture of John.

 

[img:center]http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/500/medium/john_cooper_shuksan_2014.JPG[/img]

 

We looked at the north face and decided to get on it and see how it felt in crampons. Climbable and not too soft, but it was early and we figured we'd ski down the White Salmon. At that time, 9ish, there was no slide activity on the route. We started climbing, unroped for speed and to avoid dragging both of us down in a slide.

 

At around 1015 we were at ~6700 ft, just above the edge of the rock band that dominates the start of the route, about to head right--off the slope directly beneath the cliffs of the North Shoulder. We were next to each other when we saw a smallish/medium slough release above us. I jumped over about 20 feet and hit the deck. From my position, on the edge of slough, I could see that John was well dug in and the snow flying past him. Its a blur to me now, but if the slough lasted 30 seconds I saw John in position after 20 seconds. There was a last re-invigoration of the slough and I burrowed my head down. When it was over I looked to my left, and John was gone.

 

As fast as I could in my crampons, and skis on my pack, I ran down the slope we were on hoping to see him. After struggling down the hill freaked, I quickly switched to skis and skied to the start of the route with my beacon in search mode. Not seeing him on my way down was a horrible sign. I got my phone out--3 bars!--and called 911. I gave the operator the basics and told her I was going to keep looking for him and that I'd call back. I skied down ~1300 ft to the cliffs above Price Lake, but staying well away from the two main runout gullys. Things looked bleak. At the top of the cliffs I didn't have cell phone reception, and couldn't get down to the lake, so I bootpacked back to the saddle and cell phone reception.

 

I remade contact with the National Park Service at 1215, they scrambled a helicopter, and told me to wait on the saddle with my phone in airplane mode, checking in every hour to save battery. At about 3pm the helicopter showed up. They buzzed me, went down to the lake where I had told them to expect to see him, and were out of sight for less than 10min. The helicopter then landed on the ridge above Price Lake on the side opposite from me and communicated with headquarters. The helicopter team had quickly found his body at the base of the mountain, just above the lake, and conclusively determined that he had not survived the 2500 foot fall.

 

I declined the helicopter ride out (they said the wouldn't be able to take my skis) and got off the mountain as fast as I could. Three nice gentlemen from Bellingham SAR intercepted me at the creek crossing closest to the road, and we skied back to the parking lot together.

 

Many thanks to the NPS for coordinating the recon and eventual recovery operations, and to the Bellingham SAR and TJ for softening my landing.

 

So that is how it happened. We knew the risks and the hazards, but I don't think we properly appreciated how thin the knife's edge actually was. We thought we had the timing down, and hadn't seen any similar sized sloughs on the route prior to the one that caught John. Its hard not to play hindsight games.

 

John will be missed by all he met, and for those who knew him well his abscence leaves an irreplaceable hole as a friend, brother, father and husband.

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good job, north - at least it wasn't two tragedies. one was more than enough :(

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Thank you taking the time to let the community know what happened. Terribly sorry for your loss. I wish you the very best in getting through this most difficult time.

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