HOOD RIVER, Ore. - Crews Wednesday morning reached a New Jersey man who fell to his death on Mount Hood last week, and were able to bring the remains off the mountain after a long day dealing with tough conditions.
The Hood River County Sheriff''s spokesman says the body of Robert Cormier had slipped into a crevasse that opened up. It took several hours to raise the remains up the vertical snow walls and then several hours to navigate conditions involving a steep descent, falling rocks and dangerous wind.
A private helicopter was then able to airlift the priest's remains to the Cloud Cap base operations point to bring the 17-hour operation to a safe end.
The process was delayed and made more difficult because temperatures were higher than expected, said Hood River Sheriff's Office Sgt. Pete Hughes.
Robert J. Cormier, a 57-year-old Catholic priest from Jersey City, fell on the northeast side of Mount Hood last Tuesday morning.
Two recovery teams made up of members from Portland Mountain Rescue and the Hood River Crag Rats set out to recover Cormier's body at about 1 a.m. Wednesday. The team on the south side of the mountain reached the body nearly five hours later, Hughes said. But the team could not find a safe route to bring him out.
Background: Catholic N.J. priest killed in fall on Mt. Hood
Another climber who witnessed the fall last week said Cormier was on the summit and looked north, when he fell through a cornice to his death.
According to the witness, Cormier fell about 1,000 feet on the Eliot Glacier side of the mountain. Cormier was climbing in a party of three, Hughes said
Warm weather conditions on the mountain last week made it impossible to recover Cormier's body in the days immediately following his death.
"While the mission is still very dangerous, cooler temperatures and good wind conditions have made today's efforts significantly safer," Hughes said Wednesday morning. But by Wednesday afternoon the conditions had worsened and he said the recovery effort might be extended at least another day.