Climber dies after 1,000-foot fall on Mount Hood

Associated Press
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This undated photo provided by wife Deb Weekley via Clackamas County Sheriff's Office shows Mark Cartier. Cartier, who died early Thursday, June 14, 2012 after falling about 1,000 feet on the south side of Mount Hood, was an experienced mountaineer from Portland, a Clackamas County sheriff's officer said. (AP Photo/Deb Weekley via Clackamas County Sheriff's Office)

OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) — A man climbing alone who died early Thursday after falling about 1,000 feet on the south side of Mount Hood was an experienced mountaineer from Portland, a Clackamas County sheriff's officer said.

Mark Cartier, 56, fell from close to the 10,000-foot level, landing on the west side of an area known as the Hogsback near Crater Rock, Sgt. Adam Phillips said.

Cartier "was described as an extremely experienced mountaineer and rock climber," Phillips said.

He had been on a standard climbing route. Other climbers who saw him fall alerted authorities.

In a statement, Cartier's wife, Deb Weekley, said her husband was a past member of Timberline Mountain Guides who "always exemplified the description of preparedness and calculated risk" and used Mount Hood "as his special playground."

"He climbed the mountain as he has done hundreds of times before," she said. "The only thing different this time was that he didn't call me saying he had made it down."

Cartier had climbed mountains in Oregon, California, Alaska, Europe and the Himalayas, his wife said.

Rescuers brought his body down off the mountain later in the day.

Cartier was one of 15 climbers who had registered at Timberline Lodge to solo climb overnight, The Oregonian reported.

Portland Mountain Rescue recommends that climbers tackle Mount Hood in groups of three or more so there are at least two people to help if someone falls.

Cartier was a close friend of many members in that rescue group, said Rocky Henderson, who was with those who helped retrieve the body.

"He had just returned from a climb in Alaska," Henderson told the newspaper. "He had done a lot of different climbs. An accident happened."

Although inexperienced climbers are advised not to climb solo, Henderson said Cartier had the skills and conditioning to do it.

"It's a personal choice," Henderson said. "Solo climbing is dangerous, but the attraction is that I'm responsible for my life and I make that conscious choice. It takes more effort."

Mount Hood, a Cascade Mountains peak that rises more than 11,000 feet about 50 miles east of Portland, is popular among climbers nationwide, but it has been the site of dozens of climbing accidents and fatalities over the past three decades. About 100 climbers were on the peak Thursday, taking advantage of a clear day.

Cartier is the fourth person — and second climber — to die on the mountain this year. The other two fatalities involved snowboarders.

Zac Snow, a 27-year-old climber from Ashland who passed the area where the man fell, told The Oregonian that "up where he was, it gets pretty steep."

Shaken by the climber's fall, he turned around and descended: "It kind of makes you adjust not why you go to the top but why you want to get to the top that day."