Storm stalls search for 3 on Mount Hood

Dec. 14, 2006 at 6:48 AM

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Colo., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The search for three missing climbers lost for five days high on Oregon's Mount Hood was stalled a second day Thursday by a severe winter storm.

The National Weather Service warned as much as a foot of snow could fall with sustained winds of 90 mph with 130 mph gusts Thursday, frustrating searchers on the 11,239-foot slope, The Portland Oregonian reported.

Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke began their ascent last Thursday, but on Sunday, James called his family in Dallas from his cell phone and said he was stranded and the group was in some trouble.

Wednesday, searchers didn't get a break in the weather long enough to make the four- to five-hour trip to about 10,000 feet, where James is thought to be, based on signals from his cell phone.

While all three men are experienced, dressed for the conditions and have survival training, Chris Guertin, a Hood River County sheriff's deputy, said it has to be acknowledged their chances of survival in extreme weather diminishes day after day.

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