Man who fell on Mount Hood was experienced climber

Man who fell on Mount Hood was experienced climber »Play Video
Mark Cartier

MOUNT HOOD, Ore. - An experienced climber died after falling 1,000 feet on Mount Hood on Thursday morning.

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Adam Phillips said rescue crews found Mark Cartier, 56, around the 10,000 foot mark on the mountain. He was descending from the summit when he fell.

Cartier was an experienced climber, rescuers said. He was from Portland.

"Mark helped establish numerous routes at Smith Rock and deftly reached the summit of mountains in Oregon, California, Alaska, Europe, the Himalayas, and many other places," his wife Deb Weekley said in a statement. "He always exemplified the description of preparedness and calculated risk."

Cartier started climbing at age 16. His wife said he loved climbing on Mount Hood and had done it hundreds of times before.

"The only thing different this time was that he didn't call me saying he had made it down," Weekley said.

He left from Timberline Lodge and signed in with the climbing registry.

"Hearing of the accident today, I safely assumed he had stopped to assist someone in need," Weekley said. "That was the type of climber Mark has always been."

Rescue crews faced a daunting task to recover Cartier's body, Phillips said. They had to watch out for falling rocks and rising daytime temperatures.

Phillips urged people not to climb the popular peak at this time because of "very dangerous" conditions.

Six mountain rescuers worked to get Cartier's body down.

Teams first reached Cartier just after 8 a.m. Searchers said he died from injuries related to the fall.

Deputy Bryon O'Neill with Clackamas Country Sheriff's Office said they started to get calls at about 5:20 a.m. about a climber who may have fallen and slid about 1,000 feet near a spot on the south side of the mountain called the Hogsback.

Cartier was alone near about 1,000 feet below the summit of the 11,250 mountain when he fell. Several other climbers saw the person fall and went to help, Phillips said.

Climber Zac Snow passed by people who saw the fall.

"When they saw it they turned around," he said. "They were pretty shaken up about it."

Scott Ballard with Mountain Wave Search and Rescue said recovery crews faced very tough conditions on the mountain.

"As the sun heats up the ice and it continually melts, this time of day the rocks will fall and continually fall," he said. "So they're literally dodging rocks as they are coming off the side of the hill above them."

According to his LinkedIn page, Cartier previously worked at Nike and Columbia Sportswear.

Columbia spokesman Ron Parham said Cartier was known as a passionate outdoorsman. He had recently left the company to pursue new opportunities.

His wife said he had teenaged children.


Full statement from Deb Weekley, Cartier's wife:

Earlier today, on the slopes of Mt. Hood, Mark Cartier lost his life descending from his favorite mountain. My husband was a highly respected and accomplished climber and dedicated athlete.  Starting at age 16, Mark became a serious climber.  His first love was rock climbing and we met because he was my rock climbing teacher.

Mark helped establish numerous routes at Smith Rock and deftly reached the summit of mountains in Oregon, California, Alaska, Europe, the Himalayas, and many other places.  He always exemplified the description of preparedness and calculated risk.  I can also say he was well-respected by the very people who helped recover him.  A past member of the Timberline Mountain Guides, Mark used Mt. Hood as his special playground.  

Mark dedicated his life to being a great father, husband, friend, mentor, and guide.  He excelled at pursuing the enjoyment of the adventures he sought out and willingly chose. 

His greatest thrill in the past few years has been that of a proud spectator and supporter of his teenaged children as they became smart, wonderful young people and athletes. 

Mark left this morning from Timberline Lodge after signing into the Mt. Climbers Registry.  He climbed the mountain as he has done hundreds of times before. The only thing different this time was that he didn’t call me saying he had made it down. 

Hearing of the accident today, I safely assumed he had stopped to assist someone in need.  That was the type of climber Mark has always been. 

Mark’s family, friends, co-workers and climbing partners will miss him.  I ask the media to please respect my family and Mark’s extended family’s privacy.   We need time to grieve and celebrate the incredible life that he shared with us.