Search for Mount Hood climber suspended until Tuesday

Search for Mount Hood climber suspended until Tuesday »Play Video
Crews search for Kinley Adams on Mount Hood on Monday.

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. – Search crews were forced to suspend their search Monday afternoon for a climber on Mount Hood who has not returned, after a day in which low visibility hampered the hunt.

The climber was identified Monday morning as 59-year-old Kinley Adams, a dentist from Salem.

Crews were recalled at about 12:30 p.m. due to poor weather that made the search difficult and dangerous. Searchers had taken off around 4:30 a.m. on Snowcats, shuttling up to an altitude of about 8,500 feet.

The search was limited to lower elevations because of conditions that Steve Rollins of Portland Mountain Rescue described as approaching a white-out. New soft, wet snow made the search hazardous and forced crews to stay below 9,000 feet of elevation.

Kelli Watcherson, the office manager at Adams' dental practice, said everyone's focused on bringing him home as soon as possible.

Deputy Nate Thompson said Adams’ family called the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Saturday night to report he was missing. He was supposed to return at 3 p.m. Saturday. Adams had been training for a climb in Nepal.

Adams registered in the climbing log in Timberline Lodge and said he planned to climb the Leuthold Couloir route. He is an experienced climber who has climbed that route before, Thompson said.

"He had a plan. He communicated with his family," said Sgt. Robert Wurpes. "He registered here at the mountain, which is helpful in a situation like this for us because it gives us an area to search and narrow down where we need to be searching."

A 2009 Oregon Dental Association profiled Adams' climbing experiencing, reporting that he picked up the sport in the mid-1970s just before he began dental school at Oregon Health and Science University.

“It’s a good stress release," Adams said at the time. "It is completely different, so when I’m dealing with dentistry I can concentrate on that and when I’m away from it, I’m completely away from it."

Reta Gorman said Adams has been her kids' dentist for years. She was stunned when she learned he was the missing climber.

"I've already started praying for him," Gorman said. "He is thoughtful, generous, he is always willing to help when nobody else will. He stops and listens. He has a heart of gold."

Searchers were on the mountain early Sunday looking for the Adams. They were able to summit the mountain by the Leuthold Couloir route, but they couldn’t find him. Weather conditions forced them to return to the lodge.

Several groups and individuals joined Clackamas County Search and Rescue on Monday, and a National Guard helicopter was on standby in the event the weather cleared up.

"Maybe he's also waiting the weather out," Wurpes said. "It's hard to say. We just don't know."

KATU's Hillary Lake and Bob Heye contributed to this story.