PORTLAND, Ore. — Crew members aboard an Oregon National Guard helicopter spotted rope and a spike while searching for a climber who has been missing on Mount Hood since last weekend.
It was unknown if the items belong to Kinley Adams, but they are the first potential clues rescuers have found in their six-day search.
The avalanche risk from warm temperatures prevented ground teams from investigating further Friday. Searchers plan to climb to the site at 2 a.m. Saturday, when it's colder, and helicopters will return later that day.
"There's debris all over the mountain as far as left-behind ropes and all kinds of other stuff, but this one looks a little out of place," said Sgt. Robert Wurpes of the sheriff's office. "It's something we want to take a look at – to rule out or rule in."
Adams, a 59-year-old Salem dentist, indicated he would take the Leuthold Couloir route to the summit, and the items were found east of there.
"It's a little bit off the path that we would have expected him to be on," he said. "That could be because he was disoriented or there was low visibility. There could be a lot of reasons for that."
Wurpes declined to reveal the altitude where the items were found, saying the sheriff's office doesn't want a "rogue" climber investigating in the dangerous conditions.
Adams' family reported him overdue June 22 and his car was found on the mountain at Timberline Lodge.
A climber with decades of experience, Adams had been making frequent trips to Mount Hood in preparation for a trip to Nepal. He is thought to have a cellphone, but searchers have been unable to pinpoint the signal. His mountain locator beacon was found at home, apparently with gear he was planning to take to Nepal.
Bad weather and poor visibility hampered this week's search, with helicopter crews unable to participate until late Thursday afternoon.
"Today is really the first day we're getting a good look," said Russell Gubele of Mountain Wave Emergency Communications. "It's been so socked in with clouds and rain that's it been difficult to see even if you're on foot, let alone the air."