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Rock Climbing : News : Accidents and Injuries : Three Missing on Mt. Hood UPDATED

Three Missing on Mt. Hood UPDATED


Submitted by socialclimber on 2006-12-22

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by Gary unknown


Searchers continue to be hampered by high winds and poor weather while they search for three climbers, missing since Sunday on Oregon's Mt. Hood.

The climbers intentions were well known. Climb the 11,239 foot mountain via a route on the difficult north face, then descend the south face. The three failed to appear at a pre-arranged meeting with a friend on Saturday afternoon, by mid morning on Sunday, their friend raised the alarm. Although all three men areexperienced climbers, none of them had attempted this mountain before.

Contact was made briefly with one of the climbers using a cell phone on Sunday Afternoon. Kelly James of Dallas, Tx, made contact with his family and told them he was in a snow cave near the summit and feeling exhausted. It is thought Brian Hall, also of Dallas, Tx and Jerry Cooke, of Brooklyn, N.Y. had started descending the north face to get help.

Winds of up to 70mph have grounded helicopters and kept searchers off the mountain for extended periods. To make matters worse, meteorologists had predicted up to 18 inches of snow to fall over the next couple of days then possibly a good weather window between storm fronts.

21/12/06: Almost two weeks into a search and rescue that was continually hampered by foul weather, the operation is now slowly winding down. The body of Texas man Kelly James was recovered by helicopter from a well built snow cave near the summit of the mountain on Wednsday.

Rescuers are piecing together a picture of the climbers activities and speculate that James injured his shoulder during the climb up the North face, not far from the summit. The first snow cave that was discovered had been hastily built and anchors, discarded ice tools and a length of severed climbing rope near to the cave indicate there was an emergency. The second snow cave, where the frozen body of Kelly James was found, was further to the south and just 100m below the summit. It was better built and big enough to accommodate three people. James was in bivy sac, but had no sleeping bag nor insulated jacket. It is believed the other two climbers tried to descend the north face when bad weather stopped their descent down the south side. It is possible they fell to the Elliot Glacier. Searchers would like to look at the upper reaches of Eliot Glacier, where bodies of other climbers have been found in the past, but an impending storm discounts that for the moment.

A fund has been set up to help defray travel costs of members of the affected families and meet some of the $50,000+ cost of the rescue operation. Donations can be made to the "Kelly James Rescue Fund." care of:

Dallas National Bank 2725 Turtle Creek Blvd. Dallas, Texas 75219 (214) 224-7300

23/12/06 With yet another storm threatining to over-run the Mt. Hood, search co-ordinator, Sheriff Joe Wampler has called off the search for the two climbers that remain somewhere on the mountain. Wampler said he is also acting on the wishes of the mens families. " The chance of survival is pretty nil," He said. "I don't think I can justify putting any more people in the field with the hope of finding them alive.",

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20 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 petsfed
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 2006-12-13
I wondered how long it would be before this made the front page. Anybody know these guys? It sounds all too similar to the fiasco 2 years ago. Even so, I'm hoping for the best.
 alexmac
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 2006-12-13
According to CNN, they planned a fast day ascent, min gear, return same day.
 buddylee
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 2006-12-15
Per CNN the weather is still pretty bad and the search will resume tomorrow (12-16-06). The authorties found a note by the climbers at a Ranger Station stating what type equipment they were carrying and which route they were going to take.
 climberboy193838
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 2006-12-17
just turned on fox news and they just said that they think they found the snow cave with a "Y" shape below it, along with some climbing gear on the mountain. anyone know anything more?
 pico23
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 2006-12-17
yep, one climber in cave found dead. unfortunate of course but the good news is no rescuers have been injured. the last thing i'd want, as i pursued my fools pleasure, would be for someone to get hurt trying to rescue me. hopefully the other two fair better but i always thought the guy that stayed put in the cave had the best chance and he's dead and those guys haven't been sighted either.
 rolling_boulders
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 2006-12-17
They just found one body
here's the yahoo news link
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061218/ap_on_re_us/missing_climbers
 reach
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 2006-12-17
the best thing we can do is keep a good thought for the two who haven't turned up.
 darelparker
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 2006-12-18
The body found by rescuers has been identified as 48 year old Kelly James of Dallas, TX.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/12/18/missing.climbers/index.html
 basecamp
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 2006-12-18
Unfortunately they found Kelly James' body yesterday in a snow cave near the summit. No sign of the other 2 climbers. I pray that they were able to find some form of shelter themselves and bunker down until rescuers can find them. My thoughts and prayers also go out to all the families
 karma
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 2006-12-18
I sincerely hope that the other two climbers will be found safe and alive, but does anyone else think that traveling "light and fast" (according to CNN) for a winter mountaineering trip was prudent?

Perhaps this was misreported for the purposes of hype, as I hate to think that they were unprepaired for what I can only assume were extreme difficulties with the climate and conditions. And, with luck, no one from S&R will be lost during their attempts.
 ronk
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 2006-12-19
I thought you had to wear a transponder on Mt. Hood to climb asper the Forest service. They did not even sign log at lodge befor climb. How much expereince did they have?
 david_smithrock
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 2006-12-19
You don't have to have a transponder, although they're recommended of course. They may not have been able to get to Timberline Lodge (on the south side) from the north, as the road is still out from a landslide I believe.
 climberboy193838
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 2006-12-20
ronk- supposedly these guys were very experienced in what they did and climbed many mountains in the past, including a 19,000 footer in colorado. their supposed Y is more than likely their rapping anchor from the first cave as seen in the pictures on one of the aol sites. i would not be surprised if these guys fell during a rap or other means of desent, considering they lost a glove, ice ax, and other such things that they really shouldn't have left. kelly james probably died on tuesday or sometime close thereafter because his last cell phone ping was tuesday, meaning that his cell phone ran out of battery, or he couldnt turn it on anymore for some reason. all of this is just a best guess or a re-reporting of facts through word of mouth, dont take it as fact, and please dont flame me for trying to add on some to what has already been said.
 ronk
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 2006-12-21
Thanks climberboy, having climbed hood many times it just seems people under estimate how fast things can change with the Oregon weather at this time of the year. My heart condolience to their families. after the out ward bound school mess I thought that you had to wear a beacon to help SAR. We take controled risks every time we climb but they should be an educated one, and all factors taken into play.
 kricir
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 2006-12-21
A sad turn of events for sure. It sounds like these guys were good climbers, but when the storm hits even the strongest of climbers can become victims.

Climberboy- by the way, there are no 19,000 ft mountains in Colorado, or even 15,000 ft ones for that matter.
 braaaaaaaadley
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 2006-12-21
According to CNN, they have given up the search... they are now sending a couple groups up to search for bodies after a storm blows through as of 12/21.
 climberboy193838
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 2006-12-21
yeah, kricir, i was just going on what i heard, but i think most people kinda get the point, they were experienced.
ronk- what outward bound mess?
 ronk
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 2006-12-22
The highest peak is Whitney, right? An instructor took a group of I believe 18 up Mt. Hood and only 3 came down . Found in a snow cave with some that were not as lucky. Instructor went off the canyon that runs along the mircle mile. Very sad at this time of the year for any family to have to go thru. Saw the interview with the widow this morning, couldnt help but shed a tear for them. Take care Happy Holidays, climbing Humphries and going to ski down this weekend..Feliz Navidad..
 mike_devildog
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 2006-12-22
19,000 foot peak in Colorodao....lol...prayers to their families!!
 climbingaggie03
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 2006-12-23
I'd just like to thank the family for making the difficult decision to suspend the search, I know it wasn't easy to do, but the family of these guys have seemed very concious that other people were risking their lives to try and save their loved ones and I'm glad that they realize the rescuers are important too.

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