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Missing climbers identified

Dec. 12, 2006 at 9:31 AM

HOOD RIVER, Ore., Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A ping from a cell phone at 10,300 feet led authorities to identify three climbers missing on Mount Hood in Oregon since last Wednesday.

The missing men were said to be Kelly James, 48, and Brian Hall, 37, of Dallas, and Jerry Cooke, 36, of Brooklyn The Oregonian reported Tuesday.

When James was injured during the descent, Hall and Cooke went for help, leaving their injured companion in a snow cave.

James made a "fairly disorganized" phone call to his wife Hood River County sheriff's deputy Pete Hughes told the paper, "not giving good information." The extent of James's injuries is not known.

One search team is headed for the summit from Timberline, with another about to leave from Cooper Spur. The sheriff's department says conditions are "hostile."

The missing trio planned to climb the mountain's north side, hoping to spend two nights there and join friends Friday at the Timberline Lodge. Friends called authorities when the men never showed up.

The weather forecast has a winter storm watch in effect Tuesday morning. Heavy snows are expected during the evening.

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