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Missing men on Mount Hood presumed dead

Dec. 21, 2006 at 7:34 AM

FORT HOOD, Ore., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The families of two climbers missing on Oregon's Mount Hood since Dec. 10 told searchers to treat the case as one of eventually recovering the men's bodies.

Hood River County (Ore.) Sheriff Joe Wampler said the families of Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke acknowledged hopes of finding the men alive were gone, considering the 11,239-foot mountain has been blasted by extreme winter weather since the time they set out on Dec. 8 with fellow climber Kelly James.

James' body was found in a snow cave Sunday during a break in blizzard conditions. An autopsy revealed he died of hypothermia. He also had a dislocated left shoulder, which is why searchers believe the other two set out to get help.

Wampler flew a Piper Cub aircraft over the area Wednesday before making the announcement that searchers were on a recovery mission rather than a rescue, KOIN-TV, Portland, reported.

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