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Dead Mount Hood climber identified

Dec. 18, 2006 at 10:43 AM

HOOD RIVER, Ore., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The dead mountain climber found in a snow cave high up Oregon's Mount Hood was identified as 48-year-old Kelly James of Dallas.

James' body was found Sunday but not identified until Monday as searchers and aircraft scrambled to find his two climbing partners -- Brian Hall, 37, of Dallas, and Jerry Cooke, 36, of New York.

The men began the ascent of the 11,239-foot peak on Dec. 8. Two days later, James used his cell phone to call his family and said he was holed up in a snow cave and the other two men had set out for help.

Ever since, a massive winter storm has been battering the mountain, frustrating more than 60 specialized searchers.

The weather eased Monday and Sgt. Sean Collinson of the Clackamas County, Ore., Sheriff's Office said two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane with heat-detectors began searching for the other two men, CNN reported.

Sunday afternoon rescuers found rope, two ice axes, a sleeping pad and two sets of footprints, one leading upward and disappearing, and the other going downward in circles, Detective Sgt. Gerry Tiffany of the Hood River County Sheriff's Department said.

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