Body reported found

Published June 25, 2005

A climber friend reports he has found the body of John Vincent Zazzara on Mount McLoughlin.

Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger said Friday night that the body is reported to be at about 8,000 feet on the 9,495-foot mountain, among rocks at the bottom of a snowfield.

Evinger said the climber who saw the body reported that it appeared the 54-year-old Zazzara had taken a "considerable fall" down the snowfield and had suffered extensive injuries.

The body, the sheriff said, is difficult to see even from the ground, and law enforcement officers in a helicopter were unable to confirm the report.

Evinger said the report came from Bay Area climber Marek Damm, "who has basically been living on the mountain."

Using a cell phone, Damm called the sheriff's department Friday evening from his camp at about 6,000 feet on the volcano that sits on the Jackson-Klamath county line, Evinger said.

He said that law enforcement officers had given Damm their OK to search for Zazzara after they had called a halt to rescue and recovery efforts. He said Damm has a reputation as an expert climber.

Zazzara, too, was described as a top-flight climber who liked to travel light.

He was a Beaverton employee of Intel Corp. who went on a solo climb of Mount McLoughlin June 12, leaving behind evidence that his intent was a tricky climb up a cliff off the trail near the summit.

After he missed three days of work, authorities were alerted and started a search that turned up nothing and was curtailed by bad weather.

Evinger said that law enforcement officers had several conversations by cell phone with Damm on Friday evening as they tried, but failed, to pinpoint the body.

Based on Damm's description, officers in a helicopter from Jackson County were able to find the area and get coordinates, Evinger said, but they were unable to confirm the exact location and couldn't see a body.

Starting at daybreak this morning, Evinger said, climbers from a Lane County team and law enforcement personnel would leave the trailhead to try to retrieve the body.

They'll be equipped with a cage-like piece of equipment called a "stokes" designed for such work in rocky areas.

The teams will "attempt to confirm the location of the body and determine if they can, with manpower, retrieve it," Evinger said.

If they're not successful, he said, then the call will go out for help from the Air National Guard and one of their Blackhawk helicopters.

- By Tim Fought and Alicia Gesner