Weather hampers search for lost climber on Mount Hood
Adams, a 59-year-old dentist from Salem, was reported missing by relatives on Saturday night, roughly six hours after his expected return from a climb on the west side of Mount Hood. His vehicle was still on the mountain at Timberline Lodge.
Organizers reported a “small break in the weather” early Tuesday and a party of volunteer searchers set out on a snow machine to assess the safety of climbing above the glacier on the route Adams is believed to have taken. Just like on Monday, however, the rain, snow and poor visibility stopped searchers from reaching the part of the mountain where they believe they have the best chance of spotting him.
“It’s frustrating for us,” said Mark Morford, a Portland Mountain Rescue spokesman. “We’re not getting to the high probability area and until we get a break in the weather we won’t be able to.”
Searchers stuck to the lower elevations, looking in each crevasse and finding no trace of Adams.
Despite a weather forecast that doesn’t predict clear skies until Thursday, Morford said the rescue remains in what he calls the “positive-urgency stage.”
“A skilled and well-equipped climber in these sorts of conditions would dig into a snow cave and last for many days,” he said. “They wouldn’t be very happy about it, but they would survive just fine.”
Nobody knows how well-equipped Adams was on Saturday, but he’s been climbing regularly since the 1970s and was training for an upcoming trip to Nepal.
Adams’ wife, Lorraine, and two sons went to the mountain Tuesday. They all have experience climbing and told reporters they were optimistic that Adams is alive in a snow cave.
“He can take a lot of misery,” Lorraine Adams said. “I worry that it’s been a long time and it’s cold and wet, but I’m pretty confident he can handle it.”
Rescuers said they planned to resume the search Wednesday. If the weather improves earlier than expected, a National Guard helicopter is on standby.
Mount Hood, about 50 miles east of Portland, is a popular climbing site that has seen dozens of accidents and fatalities over the years. Thousands climb the 11,239-foot peak each year, mostly in the spring. Summer can be a risky time to climb because warmer temperatures melt the ice and loosen rocks.
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