Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Missing Oregon climbers use cell phone to make contact

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) -- A pair of climbers missing in treacherous weather on Mount Hood used a cell phone Tuesday to report that they had spent the night in a snow cave and were on their way down the mountain.


Climbers were expected off of Mount Hood on Monday, said Oregon authorities.

The men, described as experienced climbers, had been due off the mountain Monday afternoon.

One of the men called his girlfriend Tuesday to let her know they had dug into the snow for shelter when conditions became so bad they could not continue.

They were near the tree line on the 11,239-foot mountain, said Detective Jim Strovink of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. He said 18 rescuers were on their way to meet the climbers.

Earlier, search teams had been waiting for a break in the stormy weather before heading up the mountain. The temperature at Timberline Lodge, the resort where the climbers had left their car, was around 10 degrees Tuesday morning and snow was blowing sideways.

The resort, on the mountain's south slope, is at an elevation of about 6,000 feet on the 11,239-foot mountain.

Searchers included representatives of Portland Mountain Rescue, Mountain Wave, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, American Medical Response and the Portland-based 304th U.S. Air Force Rescue Squadron.

More than 35 climbers have died on Mount Hood in the past 25 years.

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