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Snowboarder falls to death on first summit attempt

A Timberline Lodge employee fell to his death on Friday while snowboarding on the northeast face of Mt. Hood.

The lifeless body of Juan Carlos Munoz, 30, of Argentina, was spotted by a search plane on the upper end of Eliot Glacier about 9:30 a.m. on May 24. Other members of Munoz’ snowboarding party said he “went off” a cliff near the top of Mt. Hood about 6:30 a.m.

The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office worked with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service to set up what was originally believed to be a search and rescue mission.

However, when Hood River Sheriff Joe Wampler located Munoz laying motionless in the snow from the search plane, a recovery operation was immediately launched. About 11:30 a.m. the law enforcement agencies requested assistance from the 304th Rescue Squadron of the Air Force Reserve.

Helicopter crews reached the victim shortly after noon and transported him to the Hood River airport where a deputy medical examiner made an official pronouncement of his death.

According to Munoz’ acquaintances, Friday’s expedition was his first trip to the top of Mt. Hood.

They said he intended to descend a portion of the Cooper Spur Route and return for his climbing gear and other equipment — including his helmet — that had been left on the summit.

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