Priest From New Jersey Falls 1,000 Feet, Dies During Mountain Climb

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A priest from New Jersey died in Oregon after falling 1,000 feet while climbing a mountain. Grieving members of his parish community recall the huge impact he's made in a short amount of time. Pat Battle reports. (Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

    A climber from New Jersey died Tuesday after falling about 1,000 feet from the top of Oregon's tallest peak, officials said.

    Robert Cormier, 57, a Catholic priest from Jersey City, ascended Mount Hood's south side with two others but continued alone when one of his companions suffered a leg cramp, Hood River County sheriff's spokesman Pete Hughes said.

    Cormier appeared to reach the summit before he fell near Eliot Glacier at the volcanic peak 50 miles east of Portland.

    A helicopter photographed the climber and his position but saw "no signs of life," Hughes said. The office later confirmed his death.

    Hughes says rescuers will wait until next week to recover Cormier, when colder temperatures would afford them more stability on the rocks and ice.

    Spring is the prime season for climbing Mount Hood because the weather is better but not so warm that the ice melts and rocks fall more readily. The peak is notorious for loose rocks in warm weather.

    Conditions were warm in the area on Monday and Tuesday, with a reported temperature of 47 degrees Tuesday morning on the summit.

    "Climbers up there reported the snow was getting warm, and they wanted to get down and get off," Hughes said.

    Thousands of people climb the 11,240-foot peak each year.

    The most recent death at Mount Hood was in August. A Polish military officer visiting the United States for training with a drone manufacturer went to the summit on a day off. The novice climber fell about 1,000 feet.

    The most fatalities in one accident were seven students from Oregon Episcopal School and two adults who died after they dug a snow cave during a sudden storm in May 1986.

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