Simple packing mistake might have stranded Mt. Hood climber

MOUNT HOOD, Ore. - A simple packing mistake might be at the root of what has become a five-day search for a missing climber on Mount Hood.

Kinley Adams, a 59-year-old Salem dentist who was supposed to return from his climb on Saturday at 3 p.m., was on the mountain preparing for an upcoming expedition in Nepal.

In the days leading up to his Mount Hood climb, Adams had also been packing for his Nepal trip, shifting equipment back and forth between the separate backpacks he planned to use for the two climbs.

Somehow during all that packing and re-packing he apparently left out the locator beacon he normally carries while climbing Mount Hood. Adams' wife Lorraine said she found a beacon in the pack he was going to take to Nepal, not the pack he used to climb Hood.

Clackamas County Deputy Scott Meyers said Adams had been walking around his neighborhood weighing the packs, trying to calibrate the weight as precisely as possible for his Nepal trip.

The Search Effort

Rescue crews were hoping Wednesday afternoon might finally provide the weather break they have been hoping for in the search - Wednesday morning certainly didn't. The search was set to resume at 8 a.m., but crews delayed their departure until 10 a.m. because of extremely foggy conditions.

But the weather never did get much better and rescue crews had to call it a day. They plan to resume the search Thursday morning.

Searchers are using a technology called RECCO to aid in the search. RECCO transmitters are frequently implanted in popular outdoor gear, enabling rescuers to use tracking devices to search out signals.

Of course, none of that might be necessary if it weren't for what officials are describing as an "honest mistake" during packing.

Organizers are developing a plan that will play out over the course of the next week and kick into high gear Thursday, depending on the weather, which is supposed to improve dramatically.

Military support is expected from the National Guard in Portland and Salem, and Air Force Reserve support will come from Pendleton, "and wherever else the Air Force can get it from," Meyers said.

Optimism Remains High

Both searchers and his family remain optimistic he's still alive and awaiting help in a snow cave.

"He can take a lot of misery," Lorraine Adams said on Tuesday. "So I worry that it's been a long time, and it's cold and wet, but I'm pretty confident that he can handle it. He knows how to survive. He's had all of those classes - the avalanche classes."

Adams has spent a great deal of time on Mount Hood recently in preparation for a trip to Nepal, making the trip as often as every two weeks, so his family knew to call rescue crews when he didn't return as scheduled on Saturday at 3 p.m.

"We are trusting God to take care of him," Lorraine Adams said. "And our other blessing is through ski patrol and other things, we know so many people who are in the search and rescue community."

Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon at 11,239 feet and a popular climbing destination. Adams registered in the climbing log in Timberline Lodge and said he planned to climb the Leuthold Couloir route.

Adams was the only climber who filled out a permit to hike the route that day, though that doesn't necessarily mean he was the only one to do so because permit's aren't always requested. He is an experienced climber who has climbed that route before, Thompson said.

"He likes being outside and, well, away from people, I think sometimes," Adams' son, Brock, said on Tuesday. "He's climbed and hiked longer than I've been alive. He's been going up and down Hood so much recently, he kind of has his routine just to go out and do it, so I think half of it's just exercise like going out for a long run."