GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. – Crews are preparing for a break in the bad weather to resume the search for a climber reported missing on Mt. Hood Saturday. Weather has hampered the effort and frustrated rescuers, but skies are expected to clear this afternoon.
An Oregon National Guard Blackhawk helicopter has been on standby throughout the search, but will be used for the first time Thursday if the weather cooperates.
The search will be expanded Thursday afternoon, with three Chinook helicopters expected to join the effort around 3 p.m., said U.S. Air Force spokesman Maj. Chris Bernard. Extra ground crews were also on hand.
High winds, wet conditions and low visibility kept crews below 10,000 feet for day four of the search Wednesday. Crews at higher elevations had also been called back Monday and Tuesday afternoons due to similar weather problems.
Kinley Adams, 59, was attempting to summit Mount Hood on Saturday. He was expected back by about 3 p.m., after climbing the Leuthold Couloir that snakes up the west side of the mountain.
Family members notified the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office at 9 p.m. on Saturday that Adams was overdue, said Deputy Nate Thompson.
Searchers headed out at first light Sunday and reached the summit via the Leuthold route but could not find Adams. The search was postponed after white-out conditions made searching nearly impossible Sunday evening.
They resumed the search Monday morning, but were hindered by winter weather conditions at the 9,000-foot level. Similar weather challenges thwarted searches on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bob Henry helped with the search Wednesday. A retired dentist and volunteer with Deschutes County S.A.R., Henry is also a personal friend of Adams. The two began climbing mountains together more than 30 years ago. Their first attempt together was on the very route where Adams is now missing.
"He's an experienced climber, a very strong climber, a very thoughtful climber," said Henry. "We're focusing on getting him back right now."
"You can deal with cold, you can deal with wind to some degree, but when you can't see anything, it really hinders how much searching you can do," said Ruben Dohrendorf of Portland Mountain Rescue.
Searchers still have not found tracks, gear or any other sign of Adams on the mountain.
Adams was training for a mountaineering trip to Nepal. His vehicle was in the Timberline parking lot and he had registered for the climb, including his planned route. His son told KGW Kinley did not take a tent, shovel or sleeping bag with him when he set out Friday.
Kinley did not have a climbing beacon but had a cellphone. Rescuers have not been able to get a fix on the phone signal.
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office released the following map Monday morning. The red, blue and black lines show the search patterns of the SAR teams.