HOOD RIVER &

A 55-year-old man who had scaled one of Mount Hood's most challenging routes died after being hit by falling rock, the Hood River County sheriff's office says.




Crews were trying to recover the man's body early this morning, before the sun rose and snow melted, officials at the sheriff's office said. The area in which the accident happened is described as vertical snow, ice and rock, at about 9,000 feet near the Elliot Glacier.




The victim was part of a climbing party. His name was not immediately released, but KATU-TV reported that he was a doctor from Eugene whose family members described him as an avid climber.




His body was spotted Sunday evening by helicopter crews from the Oregon National Guard.




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.