PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ A pair of climbers fell 1,000 feet to their deaths just after they began their descent down the north side of Mount Hood on Sunday.

The climbers, whose names were not immediately released, were linked together. One of them slipped and pulled the other about 9 a.m. as they were descending the Cooper Spur route, officials said.

Other climbers said conditions were soft and mushy on the mountain as temperatures jumped into the high 80s and low 90s for the first time this year across much of the state.

Mountain rescue crews were climbing to Eliot Glacier to retrieve the bodies, which were at the 8,800-foot level, authorities said.

There were dozens of witnesses, and one used his cell phone to call for help.

Mount Hood is in the Cascade Mountain range and is 11,245 feet tall. It is about 60 miles east of Portland.

The last fatal accident on the peak was in June 1998, when a University of Portland physics professor was killed in an avalanche near the summit.