Cooper Spur fall kills climber

Seattle mountaineer was climbing solo

June 29, 2005

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler took to the skies on Friday morning to locate the body of a mountain climber who had fallen to his death.

Wampler manned the search plane after being notified about the accident by two climbers ascending from the summit near Cooper Spur. They had witnessed the 1,200 foot tumble taken by Todd Engelhardt, 34, of Seattle, Wash., from the northeast face of the mountain.

“It’s really steep in that area and if you can’t arrest yourself during a fall it’s pretty much unsurviveable because of all the rocks that you’re going to encounter,” said Wampler.

The sheriff directed paramedics from the Salem base of the Oregon Air National Guard to the remote area near the Newton-Clark Glacier where Engelhardt lay motionless. The two medics were lowered to the scene from Blackhawk helicopters. Although Wampler suspected that Engelhardt had died in the rough fall, he wanted the fatality confirmed before asking the Crag Rats, Hood River’s volunteer search team, to tackle the steep slopes. When Engelhardt’s death was verified, the Guard recovered his body and flew it to the Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot for transport to Anderson’s Tribute Center in Hood River.

Wampler said Engelhardt took on the almost vertical terrain shortly after dawn on June 24. The exact cause of his fall is not known, but the sheriff said it illustrates the safety benefit of climbing as a team. That way, he said one person can keep an eye on the other and possibly prevent an accident.

“It’s never recommended to climb solo, it’s just best to have two people anchoring each other as a precautionary measure,” said Wampler.

He said the area where Engelhardt died has been the scene of numerous fatalities over the years. Within the last five years, Wampler can recount the death of a snowboarder who decided to challenge the craggy terrain, a couple who fell while training for a climb on Mt. McKinley in Alaska, and a young girl who lost her footing along a rugged trail. The wilderness also appears to have claimed the lives of two hikers, who set out for scenic excursions and were never seen again.

“Every year we have a fatality on the north face of Mt. Hood and people just need to be really, really careful up there,” said Wampler.

He said as the summer months warm up the temperatures at high elevations, climbers can experience an added danger from slushy and slippery snow during the afternoon. But sometimes, as in the case of Engelhardt, all conditions appear to be good — and still an accident happens.

“We don’t know why he fell, whether he slipped or encountered a rock slide, but it was a tragedy,” said Wampler.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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