Body found in second snow cave
HOOD RIVER, Ore. (AP) ” Teams looking for three missing climbers on Mount Hood found a body after searching a second snow cave near the summit on Sunday, an official said.
“We have found one deceased at this point,” said Pete Hughes, a spokesman for the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office.
He said the body had not yet been identified.
The body was found in a snow cave ” but not the one that was first searched earlier on Sunday, he said.
“Our hearts are going out to the families right now,” said Capt. Mike Braibish, spokesman for the Oregon National Guard.
He said it is not yet known how the body will be brought down from the mountain.
“We need to determine the safest way to make a recovery,” Braibish said.
The second cave was located in the same area as the first snow cave, officials said.
Braibish said rescuers would be coming off the mountain early Sunday evening and will review the information gathered today before making tomorrow’s plans.
“We remain hopeful,” Braibish said. “We are going to still collect information and pursue the rescue of the two other climbers.”
A sleeping bag, ice axes and rope were found in the first snow cave, said another sheriff’s office spokesman, Sgt. Gerry Tiffany.
Tiffany said earlier Sunday after finding the first cave that another snow cave was likely. It is believed that both caves are in the region where missing climber Kelly James made a distress call with his cell phone to relatives a week ago.
Taking advantage of clear skies and a sharp drop in the wind, rescuers focused on the first cave Sunday after a helicopter spotted a rope laid out in a Y-shape, which climbers often use to signal their location.
Footprints were also found at the site. Tiffany said the prints appeared to head up the mountain, toward the summit but were blown out by the wind at higher points.
Weather conditions have been harsh since the three were reporting missing eight days ago, with heavy snow fall and wind gusts of up to 100 mph. The snow stopped Saturday, but wind up to 50 mph blew the fresh snow, hampering visibility. Skies were blue Sunday, the wind was still, and temperatures at the 11,239-foot summit were reported near zero degrees.
Searchers dug through the first cave, about 300 feet below the summit, to ensure no one was there and took the equipment, which officials will examine for clues.
Tiffany said its clear that whoever stayed there “hunkered down in the snow and they survived there for a while” and that they climbed out and could have made a snow cave elsewhere.
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