GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. – An Oregon National Guard helicopter on standby since Sunday was finally able to assist in the search for a climber missing on Mt. Hood.
Crews got a slight break in the bad weather Thursday afternoon to resume the search for 59-year-old Kinley Adams, who was reported missing on Mt. Hood Saturday.
Weather has hampered the effort and frustrated rescuers, but skies cleared just before 4 p.m. Thursday and the helicopter started flying over the mountain. Ground crews were also able to start searching at higher elevations.
The weather forecast called for clear conditions in the coming days and crews hoped to continue the search throughout the weekend if necessary.
High winds, wet conditions and low visibility kept crews below 10,000 feet for day four of the search Wednesday, and then for most of the day Thursday. Crews at higher elevations had also been called back Monday and Tuesday afternoons due to similar weather problems.
Adams set out to summit Mount Hood on Friday, his son said. He was expected back by about 3 p.m. Saturday, after climbing the Leuthold Couloir that snakes up the west side of the mountain.
Family members notified the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office at 9 p.m. on Saturday that Adams was overdue, said Deputy Nate Thompson.
Searchers headed out at first light Sunday and reached the summit via the Leuthold route but could not find Adams. The search was postponed after white-out conditions made searching nearly impossible Sunday evening.
They resumed the search Monday morning, but were hindered by winter weather conditions at the 9,000-foot level. Similar weather challenges thwarted searches on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bob Henry helped with the search Wednesday. A retired dentist and volunteer with Deschutes County S.A.R., Henry is also a personal friend of Adams. The two began climbing mountains together more than 30 years ago. Their first attempt together was on the very route where Adams is now missing.
"He's an experienced climber, a very strong climber, a very thoughtful climber," said Henry. "We're focusing on getting him back right now."
"You can deal with cold, you can deal with wind to some degree, but when you can't see anything, it really hinders how much searching you can do," said Ruben Dohrendorf of Portland Mountain Rescue.
Searchers still have not found tracks, gear or any other sign of Adams on the mountain.
Adams was training for a mountaineering trip to Nepal. His vehicle was in the Timberline parking lot and he had registered for the climb, including his planned route. His son told KGW Kinley did not take a tent, shovel or sleeping bag with him when he set out Friday.
Kinley did not have a climbing beacon but had a cellphone. Rescuers have not been able to get a fix on the phone signal.
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office released the following map Monday morning. The red, blue and black lines show the search patterns of the SAR teams.