Mount Hood search for 2 'probably over'

Dec. 20, 2006 at 9:21 AM

FORT HOOD, Ore., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The Oregon county sheriff leading the search for two mountain climbers missing on Mount Hood since Dec. 10 says "the big search is probably over."

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler told reporters the number of searchers has been scaled back as yet another winter storm was bearing down on the mountain Wednesday.

"We're approaching that time where we've got to make some serious consideration of whether we're spinning our wheels or not," Wampler said.

Brian Hall of Dallas and Jerry Cooke of New York went missing Dec. 10. They left to seek help for fellow climber Kelly James, 48, who stayed behind in a snow cave with a dislocated left shoulder.

James called his family that day on his cell phone, which was found waterlogged beside his body on Sunday, The Oregonian reported.

Searching Tuesday was limited to a few passes by two small Hood River County Sheriff's Office airplanes, the report said.

Wampler said he hoped to send in an avalanche team to probe the snow with poles whenever conditions permit.

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