Friday, December 22, 2006

Search is Over for Missing Mt. Hood Hikers

It has been a heart wrenching ordeal for the families of the three missing hikers on Mt. Hood. In early December, the trio began their ascent to the peak of Oregon's tallest mountain, reaching 11,239 feet from sea level. But climbers Kelly James and Brian Hall of Dallas, TX, and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke of New York, NY never made their way back from the mountain. Ari Chaney, a friend of both Brian and Kelly, said that their winter climb was in preparation for a trip they hoped someday to make - a climb to the top of Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak.

Hood River County Sherriff's office has determined that the small group began their ascent from the more difficult north side of the mountain. The most likely anticipated that the conditions would be similar to that of Everest. But the worst storm in nearly 10 years kept them on Mt. Hood longer than they anticipated, and for unknown reasons, Kelly was by himself nearly 300 ft. from the peak in a small snow cave. From the high altitude shelter, he phoned his family, explaining to them that there was trouble. The call was made from his cell phone, and was the last time he was heard from. He was later found by search crews, due to a "Y" shaped rope-signal placed in the ice, often a signal for help left by hikers.

Other clues were left behind by the remaining two hikers could be signs that they were swept off the mountain by a windstorm, with gusts over 100 mph in the area. While it is common to lighten the load if trouble arises, it is unlikely that they would have left life-saving equipment such as their ice axed, which were found in a crude ice shelter on a near-vertical cliff. There was also evidence that they pair may have secured themselves to the mountain to wait out the windstorm, but that is the last to be found of the two missing hikers. It is thought that they may have been swept into an area known as "the gullies", which has claimed the lives of 13 other hikers over the past four years.

It has now been over two weeks since the men were last seen, and ground and air searches have come to a close, as there is little chance that the hikers could have survived the storms on the mountain, which brought over 10 feet of new snow within just a few short days. A camera found on the body of Kelly James showed that the supplies they brought were enough for just a short two-day climb.

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  1. Were the other missing hikers ever found?

  2. I want to know the same question? I know one was found dead but what about the other 2?

  3. Unfortunately, neither of the other two were found. There was some speculation after the search ended that they may have fallen over a steep ravine, and their bodies will be very difficult to recover.

    It's very sad for the families, but the men died doing something they were very passionate about and loved doing. I have heard many a mountain climber state that he would rather his body be left up on the mountain. I often wonder if these men felt that way, too.

  4. The speculations are the only thing these families have in their daily thoughts of their loved ones.

    Being a wife of another missing Oregon man, I know first hand that the speculations never die, even after 3 years for myself.

    And you are exactly right in saying that the men did what the love and would have wanted have that mountain be their final resting place.

    That is the one thing I tell people when they ask me. He went doing what he loved and he could have never had a better, more beautiful place to lay than the forest.

    My heart goes out to the families and I hope they too continue to remind themselves that their loved ones spirit continue on in them and in their children. That is what keeps me going!!!

  5. It is now NOVEMBER 2009....Have those 2 other climbers ever been found?

  6. how would anyone know if the two remaining hikers fell over a cliff?

    they are probably in a snowcave.

  7. also;

    cgavic said

    how soon are they going to begin again in (recovery mode) look for the other two.

    When the families were in the barlow room with the specialists and doctor at timberline lodge, one comment from either the doctor or mountaineers was that if the three built a snow cave before the first hiker left.... that along with the medicines, snacks, and other stuff that were in the back packs... things could hold them for 5 days.......... give or take a day...

    so i hope they get back up there soon....

  8. As previously mentioned, the two others were not found.

  9. why do people have such little respect for nature? It seems to me that many of these nature people are almost orgamsic with being on a mountain or forest. It seems to me that these people need some common sense.

    very sad

  10. While i can well understand the love of the sport that makes people go on Mt. Hood on a hiking expedition.
    I am simply amazed that anyone is permitted to go on such a trip in the conditions that apply in the fall and winter months.
    Surely it would be sensible for such folk to legally notify some authority of when they are going, what route they expect to take, what time and day they expect to return.
    In other words a Log in / Log out system.
    It should also be mandatory that such folk carry some form of a beacon, much the same as small boating craft carry, at least they could then start these beacons should they arrive at a situation that is beyond their capabilities.
    Yes it is all to easy and trite to express sorrow for those who are lost, how about we feel something for those who risk life and limb attempting to locate and rescue these endangered folk.

  11. Hikers, please, if you wish to go hiking in the snow in the winter, please, please take a GPS locator with you. In fact, no matter what time of year, if you're planning a hike in the wilderness, for goodness' sake, take a GPS locator device with you.

    I feel like the hikers are still alive, and wish to God they could be found.


Blogging the local Mt Hood area of Oregon. With skiing, snowboarding, hiking, shopping, wind surfing, live bands, resorts, movies, and much more to do, you'll never be bored in the Mount Hood area.