David Yaghmourian, 30, was discovered around 8:35 a.m. about 1.8 miles from Timberline Lodge at 8,270 feet elevation — nearly 3,000 feet higher than the area search and rescue crews were looking for him, according to Sgt. Dan Kraus, a Clackamas County Sheriffs Office spokesman. His cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy, and the circumstances of how died are under investigation, Kraus said.
Sgt. Sean Collinson, another sheriffs office spokesman, said earlier that it appeared Yaghmourian was trying to set up a tent, had a sleeping bag, may have been hypothermic and possibly fell 30 feet.
Authorities said Yaghmourian, an Arizona State University research assistant from Glendale, was hiking with a friend on the mountain for several days when Yaghmourian took a break while heading back to Timberline on Monday. His friend went to the lodge without him and waited for Yaghmourian to arrive, but he never showed. They parted ways about a mile from Timberline Lodge, and Yaghmourian had been last seen at the eastern junction of the Timberline Trail.
The friend and Yaghmourian hadnt been in contact for about nine hours when authorities were contacted, Kraus said. It appears the Arizona man missed a turn, got lost and made his way up the mountain and later tried to find a way back down. The conditions at night were “quite severe,” with heavy rain and freezing temperatures, Kraus said.
“If youre unfamiliar with the terrain, it can happen to even experienced personnel,” Kraus said.
Dogs, a drone and a helicopter, in addition to searchers on the ground, were among the tools used to search for Yaghmourian. Searchers went as high as 5,800 feet elevation but didnt find any sign of anyone going through the area, the sheriffs office said. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday passed with no sign of the missing man.
Yaghmourian was found by a climber who was not part of the search party at the top of White River Canyon, about a half mile east of Silcox Hut. The person then called 911. Silcox Hut is roughly 1,000 vertical feet above Timberline Lodge.
Yaghmourian is the second reported accidental death of a hiker or climber on Mount Hood this year, according to a database maintained by The Oregonian. Miha Sumi, 35, fell at least 700 feet in February after descending from the summit with another climber. A total of seven other climbers were rescued in that same incident.
The search for missing hiker, David Yaghmourian, continued on Mount Hood on Oct. 11, 2018. KATU photo and photo courtesy Clackamas County Sheriffs Office
The body of a man found on Mount Hood Thursday morning has been identified as 30-year-old David Yaghmourian, the Clackamas County Sheriffs Office said during an afternoon briefing.
Yaghmourian was last seen Monday when a hiking partner said he stopped to rest at the eastern junction of the Timberline Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. The friend said he continued on to Timberline Lodge, but Yaghmourian never caught up with him.
Video: Press conference: Body found on Mount Hood amid search for hiker
A Clackamas County deputy said a climber who was not a member of a search team found the body around 8:40 a.m. The body was located near the 8,300-foot level of the mountain, about a half-mile east of Silcox Hut.
The sheriffs office said crews searched up to the 5,800-foot level of the mountain, but did not continue to higher elevations because they didnt see any signs that Yaghmourian had continued climbing.
The sheriffs office said a cause of Yaghmourians death has not yet been determined, but it appeared he died from hypothermia and may have also fallen 30 feet. They said he may have been trying to set up a tent before he died. There did not appear to be anything suspicious about how he died.
Deputies said it appeared he made a wrong turn and began gaining elevation. His friend told investigators that Yaghmourian had a knee injury and it was easier for him to hike uphill rather than downhill.
Moriah Berthrong, from Mountain Wave Search & Rescue, was one member of the search teams looking for Yaghmourian on Thursday.
“There are a lot of little trails in that area, and it can be hard to tell which is the main trail and which is another trail going off,” Berthrong said.
Berthrong suggests all hikers carry some kind of GPS device other than their cellphones, and also know that inclement weather can quickly impact your ability to survive, no matter how prepared.
“If you start getting cold and hypothermic, that also causes your brain to slow down — youre not thinking as clearly, and you often dont recognize that you arent, and so you can easily just become turned around and be going a different trail than you thought you were on,” Berthrong said.