Mt Hood - Fall, Solo Climbing - Cooper Spur
June 24, 2005
OMA Note - This was apparently a fall from the Cooper Spur route, even though the body was reportedly found on Newton-Clark glacier. Almost all falls from this route end on the Eliot Glacier on the north side, this one is either an exception or the press reported the wrong glacier. Either is possible.
The last news story is the most complete and was published several days later after some research. It reflects an experienced and well-prepared climber who understood the activity and the risk. The first few short excerpts mention a few of the objective details such as elevations and times. - OMA
Press Release from: Oregon National Guard
The Oregon Army National Guard recovered a climber from the east side of Mount Hood this morning. The victim was found deceased after what was described as an unsurvivable fall.
Soldiers hoisted the victim into a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and then took him to Mount Hood Meadows where he was turned over to officials with Hood River County.
MT. HOOD – A climber who fell on the east side of Mt. Hood Friday morning was found dead, authorities said. The man, who was not identified, died from what was described as an "unsurvivable" fall.
A search plane reportedly spotted the climber's motionless body at about 8,400 feet on Newton Clark Glacier on the Cooper Spur route. He apparently fell about 1,200 feet.
Mount Hood climber identified as Seattle man
GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. -- A Seattle climber died Friday after falling down the east side of Mount Hood, authorities said.
The climber was identified as Todd R. Engelhardt, 34.
The fall was reported about 6:15 a.m. on the Cooper Spur route along the Newton-Clark glacier, according to the Hood River County sheriff's office.
Engelhardt was believed to be at about the 10,000-foot level of the mountain when he fell more than 1,000 feet. The cause of the accident was unclear.
Solo climb of Mount Hood ended in fatal fall
For one reason or another, one after another, Todd Engelhardt's climbing pals bailed out on his plan to climb Mount Hood in Oregon last week. So Engelhardt went alone. He planned to climb the mountain's Cooper Spur route, a long spine of snow on rock with views north across the Columbia River to the 11,239- foot mountain's sister volcanoes in Washington: Adams, St. Helens and Rainier.
Perhaps he should have waited.
He didn't, and he died there Friday morning.
A friend, Dennis Burnett, said Engelhardt showed him a map of the mountain, pointing to spots on the route where trouble could be expected. "He pointed to the place where he said he'd end up falling if he messed up. He told me, 'This is the line I'm going to take.' He knew with 100 percent certainty what could happen to him if something did go wrong, and it did."
A report from the Hood River County Sheriff's Office said Engelhardt fell about 1,500 feet, but appeared to have been well-equipped for a route that has taken the lives of at least 16 climbers since records first were kept.
Engelhardt, 34, came from the comparative flats of Pennsylvania, where he was raised, and Oxford, Ohio, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English and journalism at Miami University, before surrendering to the call of the Northwest's vertical geography.
He let high-mountain living tug him first to Portland, where he paid his way by working for a couple of brew pubs, and then to Seattle and a job at another brew pub three years ago.
"When we hired him, he insisted on Saturdays and Sundays off," said Todd Carden, owner of the popular Elliott Bay Brewery Pub in West Seattle, where Engelhardt was a waiter.
It was there that he earned the nickname "Gravy," said Burnett, a fellow waiter.
Seems the restaurant's heat, combined with the heat of body parts rubbing, could be eased for Engelhardt with strategic dustings of that time-tested heat remedy, cornstarch.
"So we always kidded him about making gravy in his pants," Burnett said.
Engelhardt's girlfriend, Christy Bemis, said he always gave her a sheet of paper detailing his climbs, where he would be, the routes he would take and when to get worried.
On this one he wrote, "If you don't hear from me by noon, call the Hood River Sheriff."
With July 4 and the heat of summer looming, this was to have been Engelhardt's last big mountain for a while, Bemis said. Over Father's Day weekend, he climbed Mount Daniel in the North Cascades.
"He was fully aware of the dangers," she said. "He expected to start climbing (Mount Hood) about 10 at night because there was to be a full moon."
Dan Schrader was on the list of those Engelhardt would have teamed up with had schedules matched.
"But most of us work during the week and couldn't get off," Schrader said. "I told him I couldn't make it, and that's the last I heard."
Shortly after 7 a.m. Friday, two unidentified climbers saw Engelhardt fall and called Clackamas County 911.
A search plane later spotted the body. It lay below the spur's south side, at the 8,500-foot level of Newton-Clark Glacier.
A ground crew and two Oregon National Guard helicopters were dispatched to retrieve it.
John Godino, secretary of The Mazamas, a Portland-based climbing organization, said the Cooper Spur route has become Mount Hood's deadliest, partly because a fall from the upper 500 feet "will take a person over near-vertical snow or rock.
"Apparently, that's what happened here. But there is really no way of knowing, since it was a solo climb. There was no one to say exactly where the fall took place. Or why."
Carden, the Elliott Bay Brewery Pub owner, said a celebration of Engelhardt's life will take place between 1 and 4 p.m. July 4 at the pub where he worked, 4720 California Ave. S.W. in West Seattle.
Engelhardt is survived by his parents, Paul Engelhardt of Hanover, Pa., and Elizabeth Yaekle of Granville, Ohio.
Todd Engelhardt loved hiking, climbing, biking
Sheriff's deputies discovered Mr. Engelhardt's body early Friday after two climbers, Dan and Darin Pfeiffer, witnessed his fall.
"He looked like he had decided to back out of the climb, and he was clearly descending," said Dan Pfeiffer of Portland, who was with his brother, Darin.
"I kept an eye on (Mr. Engelhardt) and saw that he started to slide, then I heard him cry out and start to tumble. It was horrible, the fear in his voice was something I'll never forget."