Helicopter extends search for 2 climbers in Ore.
Associated Press Writer
GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. (AP) – A military helicopter searched upper elevations of Mount Hood on Monday, as rescuers held onto hope that two experienced climbers would be found alive after a third member of their party was discovered dead over the weekend.
Search teams were working against time, with a new storm expected to hit Oregon’s highest peak overnight.
Taking advantage of a brief break in the weather, a Black Hawk helicopter operated by the Oregon Army National Guard searched for signs of life or debris. Ground teams have also started up the mountain but remained at lower elevations because of avalanche dangers.
Mountaineers found the body of Luke T. Gullberg, 26, of Des Moines, Wash., on Saturday at the 9,000-foot level on Reid Glacier.
Officials were examining photos from Gullberg’s camera for possible clues about the location of his companions.
Authorities have not released details on the photos. But Teri Preiss, an aunt of missing climber Anthony Vietti, said the photos suggested the trio had changed their route up the mountain to avoid one that looked too dangerous.
Bad weather has frustrated ground teams and aircraft searching high elevations for Vietti, 24, of Longview, Wash., and Katie Nolan, 29, of Portland, who have been missing since Friday.
Preiss believes her nephew and Nolan were strong enough to survive somewhere on the 11,249-foot mountain.
“Today is our day,” Preiss said.
Steve Rollins, a search leader, said the climbers were known to have ice axes that could be used to hack out a snow cave.
“It’s more like digging with a spoon than a shovel, but if you’re life is in danger you can do wonderful things,” said Rollins, with Portland Mountain Rescue.
Officials previously said the climbers did not have shovels.
Relatives of all three climbers gathered at Timberline Lodge, a ski resort on the flank of Mount Hood and a staging area for the search.
“We want to get above 10,000 feet,” said Nate Thompson, search coordinator with the Clackamas County sheriff’s office.