Crews recover body of climber

Published June 26, 2005

Search teams Saturday recovered the body of a man who died during a climb on Mount McLoughlin earlier this month.

John Vincent Zazzara, 54, of Beaverton, was reported missing June 16 after he failed to return home following a climb on the mountain four days earlier.

Rescue crews searched the mountain for several days but could not find Zazzara. Authorities called off the rescue operation, but friends of Zazzara continued looking.

Marek Damm, an expert climber and friend of Zazzara, called the Klamath County Sheriff's Office about 5 p.m. Friday to report he had found Zazzara's body.

Damm had searched intensively for Zazzara, and had "basically been living on the mountain," said Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger.

Lane and Klamath county search teams hiked in to recover the body Saturday morning, reaching the site about 9:48 a.m. Zazzara's body was found at an elevation of 8,550.

The terrain made it dangerous for crews to attempt to carry the body, so the Army National Guard was called to provide a helicopter, Evinger said.

Evinger said a Blackhawk helicopter reached the location about 2 p.m. and two medics were able to bring Zazzara's body onto the aircraft without any problems.

The helicopter flew to Kingsley Field and turned the body over to Ward's Klamath Funeral Home shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday.

Evinger said a preliminary investigation indicates Zazzara died from head injuries after sliding through an ice field on the south side of the mountain. He was found wearing crampons on his boots, but he was not wearing a helmet.

The scene was photographed and documented by the search teams and the preliminary reports will be reviewed by a detective Monday.

Mount McLoughlin is in the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area on the Rogue River National Forest. It's 9,495-foot-high peak is about 1 1/2 miles west of the Jackson-Klamath County line.

Klamath County authorities often supervise searches on the mountain because the trailhead leading to the peak is in Klamath County, and people who become lost on the mountain are frequently on the east side of the county line.

No climbers have died on Mount McLouglin in recent memory, Evinger said, although numerous lost and injured climbers have been rescued over the years.