Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hoping & Praying for Lost Mt Hood Climbers

I've had these mountain climbers on my mind and my heart just goes out to their families. I can't imagine enduring the wait for news for over a week. I can't imagine finding out that one of the climbers was found, dead, but the others are still missing and just wondering what it's been like for these men. I can't even decide if I would want to hear that the one who died was my family or not... or if I would still have hope after how long it's been. I do think that it must feel like the family's lives are on hold. How lucky I feel to have all of my family safe and sound, knowing where everyone is and knowing that they're healthy and safe.

This is the most recent article:


Pics of climbers raise worries in search
By JOSEPH B. FRAZIER, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 18 minutes ago

HOOD RIVER, Ore. - Photos found with the body of a climber found on Mount Hood have increased worries about how long his two missing companions could survive in the brutal environment, a sheriff said Tuesday.

"Looking what they had with them, I'm pretty concerned about how long somebody can last out there," Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler said of the photos that show the gear the trio carried with them up the mountain.

Kelly James' body was retrieved from a snow cave near the 11,239-foot peak on Monday. The search for Brian Hall and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke had been narrowed to a small, treacherous section on the dangerous north side of Oregon's highest peak, but up to 10 feet of snow had fallen on that part of the mountain since the three men were reported missing on Dec. 10.

Rescue teams had scaled back the ground search and were asking if they were "spinning their wheels," Wampler said.

The sheriff said two airplanes were being used Tuesday to keep watch on that area of the mountain.

The surveillance would allow the "opportunity for Brian and Nikko to stick their heads up out of their hole and rescue themselves. We want to be there to see that, if that happens," Wampler said.

James, 48, of Dallas, who had a dislocated shoulder, made a cell phone call from his cave on Dec. 10, telling his family the party was in trouble and the others had gone for help.

The sheriff said the other climbers must have had to dig a second shallower cave of their own on a steep slope as the weather worsened.

The place below the second cave is called "the gullies," with a 60-degree slope and a treacherous 2,500-foot drop-off. About 13 climbers have died in the area in the past 40 years, Wampler said.

Wampler said the search for Hall, 37, also of Dallas, and Cooke, 36, of New York City, will continue for now as a rescue effort, not a recovery operation.

More bad weather is expected Wednesday, and he said their odds of survival are less if they don't have shelter.

"If they did not get in a hole somewhere, we might be beyond survivability periods," Wampler said. "You can last a long time in a hole. So we are looking for a hole."

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