A doctor from Eugene died on Mt. Hood Sunday after being struck by a rock while descending from the summit with his son.
Relatives told KGW that Gary Lee, 55, a Eugene oncologist, was an experienced mountaineer.
Lee climbed the Cooper Spur route on Mt. Hood Sunday with his son Devon and reached the summit. On the descent, Lee was struck by falling rock and was unable to self-arrest, sliding about 1,000 feet before coming to rest in an area of rock and ice above the Elliott Glacier.
At 2:00 a.m. Monday, recovery crews began efforts to reach Lee's body. Dangerous conditions were expected to make the recovery effort difficult. Lee's body was said to be in an area of vertical snow, ice and rock at about 9,000 feet elevation.
Steve Rollins of Portland Mountain Rescue said the recovery operation might last until Tuesday or later. He said mountaineers would decide how to bring the body down once they saw conditions firsthand.
Loose rock and soft snow are common during Mt. Hood's summer climbing season. Rollins said recovery crews would be at risk from rockfall from the volcanic peak.
"In many cases the rock is glued together with ash the consistency of toothpaste," he said.
Hood River County 911 Center received a report of an injured climber on Mt. Hood at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday.
Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler and Crag Rat Rick Ragan flew over the area and saw what they believed was the injured climber at approximately the 9,000 foot level.
The 641st Army National Guard Medivac helicopter flew over the area, and was able to confirm visually and by thermal technology that the climber was dead.
The Cooper Spur route is one of the more hazardous routes on Mt. Hood, and has claimed dozens of lives. In December 2006, climber Kelly James of Texas died of hypothermia in the same area of the mountain. His body was found in a snow cave, but the bodies of the two other men in his climbing party, Brian Hall of Texas and Jerry Cooke of New York, were never found.
(The Associated Press also contributed to this article.)