Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Photos of climbers cast doubt

The AP is reporting that photos found with deceased climber Kelly James on Mount Hood have raised official worries about how long his two fellow climbers could survive.

“We’ve got some pictures. Kelly James had taken some pictures of his climb,” said Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler. “So we know pretty much what they had with them." After examining the photos, Wampler said, “looking what they had with them, I’m pretty concerned about how long somebody can last out there.”

Wampler also said that rescue teams had scaled back the ground search today and are asking themselves whether they are “spinning their wheels” by continuing the search for Brian Hall and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke.

Searchers are using two fixed-wing aircraft to watch parts of the mountain that are too dangerous for other climbers. They hope Brian and Nikko "stick their heads up out of their hole and rescue themselves. We want to be there to see that, if that happens,” Wampler said.

Most of the searchers have been volunteers. It was unknown how many would be available today, and another storm is forecast for tomorrow.

Wampler said James had a dislocated shoulder. His body was flown off the mountain Monday.

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