Low visibility hampers search for lost Mt. Hood climber

Low visibility hampers search for lost Mt. Hood climber
The missing hiker has been identified as 59-year-old Kinley Adams, a dentist from Salem.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Bad weather forced crews to suspend their search for an Oregon climber missing on Mount Hood

Kinley Adams, a 59-year-old Salem dentist, was reported missing by family Saturday night, roughly six hours after his expected return from a climb on the west side of the iconic mountain. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office found his vehicle at Timberline Lodge.

Unable to find him Sunday, volunteers returned to the mountain early Monday, but the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office says rain, snow and poor visibility stopped the effort in the early afternoon.

Steve Rollins, spokesman for Portland Mountain Rescue, said earlier in the day that conditions Monday would likely will keep searchers tethered to the lower elevation of the mountain, near timberline. Though frustrating not to go higher, he said it's a search area that could bear fruit.

"If a climber gets lost, they often wander down into the woods," he said.

Described as an experienced climber, Adams indicated he would take the Leuthold Couloir route to the summit. Crews searched that area Sunday, but found no trace of him as they struggled against white-out conditions. The skies are not expected to clear until Thursday.

It's easy to miss Leuthold and get into steeper gullies, Rollins said. Moreover, the ice that holds Mount Hood's notoriously crumbly rock is melting.

"It's maybe getting a little bit late in the season," Rollins said.

Adams has a dentist office in south Salem. The Statesman Journal newspaper reported that he is also the former president of the board of directors for the Salem Pops Orchestra.

"Everyone's focus is on bringing him home as soon as possible," Kelli Watcherson, the office manager at Adams' dental practice, said in a brief phone interview Monday.

Besides Portland Mountain Rescue, volunteers from Mountain Wave Communications, American Medical Response Reach and Treat Team and Hood River Crag Rats are taking part in the search coordinated by the sheriff's office.

Mount Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon, 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.