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Dec-18-2006 09:35TweetFollow @OregonNews
One Hiker Found Dead on Oregon's Mt HoodSalem-News.com
The identity of the hiker's body found by searchers has been revealed.
(HOOD RIVER) - The body found Sunday in a snow cave on Mount Hood has been identified as the same climber who placed a distress call to relatives a little more than a week ago. A military official involved in the search also confirmed the body is that of 48-year old Kelly James, of Dallas, Texas.
Monday morning, a Chinook helicopter was preparing to fly to the snow cave, about 300 feet below Mount Hood’s 11,239-foot summit, to recover the body.
Pete Hughes, a spokesman with the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, said two Blackhawk helicopters were getting ready to fly to the mountain to search for the two climbers still missing: 37-year old Brian Hall, also of Dallas, and 36-year old Jerry “Nikko” Cooke, of New York City.
A team of climbers who stayed overnight at a lodge about half way up the mountain will also participate in the search.
According to officials, the Monday search effort will center on possible descent routes on Eliot Glacier and Cooper Spur, relatively lower levels of the mountain, in case the other two got down that far.
“Eliot Glacier is real dangerous so we will do that by air only,” Hughes said Monday. “It’s a bad avalanche area with crevasses. There are still people in crevasses that have never been recovered.”
Searchers had been trying to find the stranded climbers for a week, but they were stopped daily by blizzards that kept hammering the mountain.
They got a break on Sunday, finally a day that was sunny and clear with diminished winds. It was then that searchers found a snow cave Sunday near the spot located by cell phone signals.
Kelly James made a four-minute call to his family a week ago Sunday. He told his family he was in a snow cave, the climbing party was in trouble and that the other two had headed back down.
The body was found in a second snow cave near the first cave. Rescuers found two ice axes, a sleeping bag or pad and rope in the first. It was not known if any gear was in the second cave. Searchers were unable to move the body from the mountain Sunday night because darkness made it too dangerous to retrieve.
Near the first snow cave, helicopters had spotted rope that had been intentionally laid out in a Y-shape, which climbers often use to indicate their location. There was also an ice spike and footprints, apparently headed up the mountain, said Sgt. Gerry Tiffany, a spokesman for the Hood River County sheriff’s office.
Searchers dug through the first cave to ensure no one was there and took the equipment, which will be examined for clues. The second cave with the climber’s body was found a short time later.
It was not immediately clear which cave was occupied first, or why or when the climber, or climbers, in it decided to move.
The search for the two remaining missing hikers continues.
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