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 Oregon Mountaineering Association
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Mt Hood - Cooper Spur - Snowboarding Fall

May 24, 2002

Snowboarder dies on Mount Hood

MT. HOOD - A snowboarder on Mount Hood died Friday after falling from the northeast side of the mountain.

The victim has been identified as 30-year-old Juan Carlos Munoz. Munoz, from Argentina, was a resident of Government Camp and had been working at Timberline Lodge. It was Munoz’s first trip to the summit of Mount Hood.

Members of Munoz’s party told Clackamas County 911 that Munoz disappeared from the north end of the mountain, not far from the summit shortly after 6:30 a.m.

Munoz’s body was found lying motionless near the upper end of the Eliot Glacier at around the 8,500 foot elevation mark. Rescuers with the 939th Rescue Wing said Munoz was "non responsive" and could not be revived when they reached him. His snowboard, broken in half, was still attached to his feet.

Eliot Glacier lies below the Cooper Spur climbing route. A friend of Munoz’s told the Hood River Sheriff that he had intentionally tried to ride down the Cooper Spur route. This route is considered dangerous because there is little room for error if a person was to fall. The terrain is extremely steep and has several obstacles including crevasses, sheer rock cliffs, and ice.

Munoz had planned to board down this route, and return to the summit the same way. According to the Hood River Sheriff’s Department, Munoz had left all of his climbing equipment, including his helmet on the summit.

Summary: It appears that Mr Munoz was an accomplished snowboarder but lacked a mountaineering background. While the Cooper Spur has been skied, and probably snowboarded, it is an "extreme" route which should not be taken lightly. A fall of any kind typically means death, as it did in this case. Few people would attempt it on a whim after coming up the South Side without the opportunity to inspect the descent route on the way up. Mr Munoz apparently intended to ascend the Cooper Spur back to the summit but left his climbing gear at the top. Anyone familiar with the route would realize that this gear would be necessary to climb back up. He was advised against a descent on the north side by his partner on the summit. This information, taken together as a whole, seems to indicate that Mr Munoz had insufficuent mountaineering experience to appreciate the risk he was taking or the consequences. While he probably knew his snowboarding skills and limits well it seems he significantly underestimated the mountain.

Photo of the North Side with Cooper Spur and Eliot Glacier

Previous Cooper Spur Accidents:

- Accidents Page -