MOUNT HOOD, Ore. - Search and rescue crews were back at work on Tuesday morning on Mount Hood, searching for missing climber Kinley Adams.
Adams, a 59-year-old Salem dentist, was due back Saturday afternoon, but never returned. Unfavorable weather has limited crews’ efforts, though they remain optimistic he’s still alive and awaiting help in a snow cave.
Early Tuesday morning, a small break in the weather allowed the crews to change their tactics and begin their search at higher elevations.
One member of the search party, Master Sgt. Richard Oberster of the 304th Rescue Squadron, was on his second day with the crew. He said they made it as high as 10,000 feet.
Oberster said the searchers spent about an hour at that height, blowing whistles in an attempt to draw Adams' attention. It was a near white-out, with visibility at about 50 feet. Because the snow was hard, the team was optimistic Adams might have been able to dig a snow cave in which to ride out the wait.
The searchers planned to work their way down the mountain as the weather grew worse over the course of the day, and there were plans to continue the search through at least Wednesday and Thursday if necessary.
On Monday, the search was called off shortly after noon because near white-out conditions made the search unmanageable and dangerous, holding searchers below 9,000 feet.
Crews were hoping the weather would break enough that they would be able to send a National Guard helicopter up the mountain, but it looked increasingly unlikely as the morning wore on. A team of eight searchers left early Tuesday morning in Snowcats, which they planned to take to get them near Crater Rock and Reid Headwall.
Another eight climbers left on skis at 8 a.m. but limited their search to lower elevations after the first crew's experience with poor weather.
Adams’ sister, Cherie Goetz, spoke with KATU by phone Monday night as she sat surrounded by family.
"He has a very strong faith,” she said. “I know that will get him through. He knows what to do to hunker in there.
"I picked up his sons at the airport and we're trying to decide if we should go up to the mountain. The longer he is missing, the harder it is to just sit here and wait. It's very hard to wait, really hard."
Goetz said the family is drawing hope from Mary Owen, who was trapped on the mountain for six days three months ago and surivived.
"We're hanging on to the fact that if that woman could do it, he can do it."
Deputy Nate Thompson said Adams’ family called the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Saturday night to report he was missing. He was supposed to return at 3 p.m. Saturday. Adams had been training for a climb in Nepal.
Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon at 11,239 feet and a popular climbing destination.
The Clackamas County sheriff's office is coordinating a search by Portland Mountain Rescue, volunteers from Mountain Wave Communications, American Medical Response Reach and Treat Team, and Hood River Crag Rats.
Adams registered in the climbing log in Timberline Lodge and said he planned to climb the Leuthold Couloir route. He is an experienced climber who has climbed that route before, Thompson said.
"He had a plan. He communicated with his family," said Sgt. Robert Wurpes on Monday. "He registered here at the mountain, which is helpful in a situation like this for us because it gives us an area to search and narrow down where we need to be searching.
"Maybe he's also waiting the weather out. It's hard to say. We just don't know."