Skip to comments.Mt. Hood Body Identified As Kelly James
Posted on 12/18/2006 8:47:53 AM PST by george76
A missing climber found dead in a snow cave on Mount Hood was identified as a Dallas man who had placed a distress call to relatives a little more than a week ago, a person close to the family said Monday.
Searchers found the cave Sunday near the spot located by cell phone signals traced from Kelly James, who made a four-minute call to his family Dec. 10 just below the summit, said Jessica Nunez, a spokeswoman for the climber's family.
On Monday, a recovery team was expected to retrieve the body, which remained on the mountain over night because darkness made it too dangerous to retrieve. The search for two other climbers also was to resume on the treacherous north side of Oregon's highest mountain.
His body was found in a second snow cave near the first, about 300 feet below the summit. Rescuers found two ice axes, a sleeping bag or pad and rope in the first. It was not known if any gear was in the second cave.
Monday's search would center on possible descent routes on Eliot Glacier and Cooper Spur, relatively lower levels of the mountain, in case the other two got down that far...
"Eliot Glacier is real dangerous so we will do that by air only," Hughes said Monday. "It's a bad avalanche area with crevasses. There are still people in crevasses that have never been recovered."
Searchers dug through the first cave to ensure no one was there and took the equipment, which will be examined for clues. The second cave with the climber's body was found a short time later.
It was not immediately clear which cave was occupied first, or why or when the climber, or climbers, decided to move from it.
(Excerpt) Read more at examiner.com ...
Excellent work !
That really helps detail the issues.
Descending down one of the NF Gullies would lead to a big step.
I understand what you mean about the situation they were caught in.
There's a possibility they split up and there was no accident involving the three of them, but James had one idea of what he wanted to do and they had a different one.
However, my question is, why would the other two not care if their bodies were never found? Or found a long time into the future? I suppose they could have said, well, we're going to give it a shot to get down. If we die trying, at least we tried. And we might get lucky and make it.
But if as you say they all knew they were almost certain to die from the weather, I have to wonder why only James would want to insure that he was found.
I agree, I would have been asking questions wanting to know every detail. But then again, I am the type that likes to know all the details. It makes it easier for my mind to understand, absorb and to accept. Maybe she will regret not doing that some day.
Thanks for the pic. It puts it all in perspective.
Yesterday a couple of small search teams headed out to about 7500 ft.
What happened on the mountain isn't known except for conjecture based on James' call, photos the party took, and mute evidence such as two ice axes and a climbing harness.
Wampler said the three climbers "did everything right." But without making specific reference to their plans for a quick, lightly equipped ascent, Wampler said "a minimum climb this time of year is three days, not just one day, three days. You plan on having to stay out there in case something happens."
He said the advice to prepare well for trips applied to travelers of all sorts.
"Never, ever go anywhere ... and not be prepared to spend some time out there, because you might get caught," Wampler said. "Oregon, the Northwest, anytime you get off that highway out here, you're in the wilderness."
I didn't see the interview, so thank you for the information and the link. I think they are searching again this morning for Brian and Jerry.
That is a fact. I spent some time on another thread (I think it was a thread on the Kim tradgedy) talking about what gets put in my truck at the beginning of winter and stays there till spring...
Too many folks just assume that some rescue service will find them in time for dinner, so they don't plan for the worst. That is always, always the biggest mistake, especially so in the mountains (the desert too, I suppose).
It is always sad, as so many tragedies can be absolutely avoided, and even more could end up much better, just by having the "possibles" one might need.
At the same time, most of what I have contributed to this thread is in defense of the honor of these men.
I don't know them personally, but I do know their kind, and I find it unbearable to believe any scenario which treats these men like the average gumbies that bad things happen to. These guys were professional high-altitude climbers, professional big-wall climbers, professional ice climbers, and therefore professional mountaineers as well.
It could be that they all finally succumbed to the dementia that happens with advanced hypothermia and wandered away from each other, but there is NO WAY they would have split and left him there otherwise. It just isn't done. Can't happen.
It is as dishonorable an assumption as it would be to assume a U.S. Marine would leave a buddy behind, or any number of lesser highly dangerous occupations. Sure, it has happened, but it is the absolutely last choice (in all cases).
The caliber of man that can even begin to attempt what they do is definitely the REAL thing, and it would be unthinkable!
No, something awful happened there, they didn't get "caught", They didn't leave him, and he didn't leave them. Until there is evidence to the contrary, that is really the only explaination that fits.
If they were just "screwed", the optimum course of action would be to dig in together, or make their way back to the big snow-cave together. In the barest sense, the more bodies you have in that cave, the more heat pumps you have.
If they considered themselves equals, they would deliberate together and whatever choice would be made would be made by the three, or the other two would follow the leader without question. If they knew they were screwed, somebody would have called 911 (or etc), called ALL their families, written legacies... There would be evidence of the other two.
I really think there was an accident, and James was the only survivor of it....
Thank you for your insightful posts.
Your comments make sense--there must have been some tragic accident. So sad! Maybe more clues will be found in the future that will help us understand what happened.
Great post. I only wish James family put forth more questions to him.
Have a Merry Christmas.
Roamer, are you still guessing that maybe the terrible accident happened BEFORE the storm hit? Maybe close to the time it hit but still before? BTW, my last post does not mean I've concluded there was no accident. I was responding to the ideas of bonneblue as to what she guessed might have happened. And her scenario was guessing no accident but possibly the deadly weather was a sole catalyst for the split up.
are you still guessing that maybe the terrible accident happened BEFORE the storm hit?
Yes. In response to the now established fact that he was uninjured, and in light of AA's (?) observation that he would be unable to stand in 100 mph winds.
It makes no sense that he would leave his ground pad and axes, arguably the most important things he'd need, so it would seem to me he was delirious before he left the belay station to move to the snow-cave.
It seems likely he dug the small cave at the belay station himself, and some time later, after being severely compromised by hypothermia, left his gear to wander over to the big snow-cave.
I had wondered if that all could have happened before the storm truly set in, which would seem to be necessary in order for him to move at all.
I don't know when the storm truly hit, so I can't say, but I do know that if he were only in a jacket, it would not take long for hypothermia to set in, even if in a snow-cave.
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