MOUNT HOOD, Ore. (KOIN) — A member of the Polish military who was reported missing Sunday after trying to summit Mount Hood has been found dead.
The Hood County Sheriff’s Office reports that 32-year-old Sebastian Kinasiewicz was spotted sometime after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday by an Army Oregon National Guard helicopter. It appears he had fallen from the west side of the summit. A recovery mission has been delayed to due dangerous conditions, the sheriff’s office.
His body was spotted around 9500 feet in elevation in a couloir called Climbers Left Chute, and authorities determined he fell about 1500 feet.
Kinasiewicz was in the United States as part of ongoing training being conducted by Bingen, Wash., based Insitu, according to Sgt. Pete Hughes, a sheriff’s office spokesperson. Kinasiewicz has been in the U.S. for a week.
He was last seen by his roommate at 8 a.m. Sunday. Kinasiewicz was intending to summit Mount Hood. He did not leave behind a climbing plan.
“That makes it very difficult for us,” Hughes said.
Meanwhile, KOIN obtained photos snapped Sunday by another climber, Shakul Tandon, that deputies say may have shown Kinasiewicz. The sheriff’s office said they were taken at about the same that Kinasiewicz was supposed to be on the mountain. They were used as part of the body identification process from the helicopter.
Based on initial reports, Kinasiewicz was believed to have had a jacket and pack containing warm clothing and water, as well as an ice axe and crampons, but may not have had any other survival gear.
Hughes described him as “having novice climbing experience.”
Sheriff’s deputies located his vehicle Monday parked at the Tilly Jane Trailhead. Two search and rescue teams were formed from that location Monday. Members of the Hood River Crag Rats (HRCR) searched two routes on Mount Hood that start at the trailhead without success. An airplane was used throughout the day Monday but it also failed to turn up any evidence of him.
Shortly before 11 p.m. search efforts were called off due to darkness. Members of the search teams camped overnight, then got back on the mountain at about 5 a.m. Tuesday.
While efforts were being focused on the north side of the mountain, another crew set off from Timberline Lodge on its south side, in Clackamas County. The Oregon Army National Guard was providing helicopter support.
The ground search was being conducted by the HRCR and Portland Mountain Rescue. Mountain Wave Emergency Communications was also assisting.
An emergency dispatcher told KOIN that the command post was located at the Cloud Cap Inn, which is about 2 hours from Portland in the Mount Hood National Forest. The Cloud Cap Saddle Campground had been closed to the public and was being used by search and rescue teams.
Cloud Cap Road remained closed because of a tree removal project. The campground was only accessible by hiking the Tilly Jane trail.
The Polish Armed Forces said Kinasiewicz had been a warrant officer with a special forces unit since June. Prior to that, he was a specialist with the military’s press office. He was married with one child.
Insitu, which builds drones, released a statement Tuesday prior to his body being found:
“Our thoughts are with Sebastian’s family at this difficult time. We are working with the Hood River County Sheriff’s department to assist them any way we can to locate Sebastian.”
– Brent Weisberg