Kinley Adams, 59, did not return from a Mt. Hood climb on June 22, 2013 when expected by his family. Mr. Adams had intended to climb the Leuthold Couloir, which is a challenging, but popular route up the west side of the mountain. Under the direction of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, search teams searched the mountain for Mr. Adams from June 23 through June 29. Searchers in a helicopter spotted his body at the top of the Sandy Glacier on June 29. Apparently, Mr. Adams lost his intended route, crossed Yocum Ridge and made his way into a very steep and dangerous area of the Sandy Glacier headwall to the north. There he either fell or was hit by falling rocks or ice. Rescuers recovered his body on June 30.
From the beginning, the search effort was hampered by difficult weather and snow conditions. Beginning on Sunday, June 23, winter storm conditions prevailed on the upper mountain with a snow level around 9000′. Rain soaked the snow at elevations below 9000′. Visibility was poor and wind and precipitation made travel on foot difficult and aerial searching impossible. By mid-week, snow conditions became dangerous with wet snow avalanches occurring throughout the area above 9000′. Due to these conditions, mountain rescue search teams concentrated their efforts below 9000′, especially on the Reid Glacier, for most of the week. On June 23, one Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR) team climbed the Leuthold Couloir to the neck of Hour Glass, but retreated due to poor visibility and unstable snow conditions; they found no clues. The weather and snow conditions remained poor through Thursday evening June 27 when the clouds finally lifted. On Friday June 28, mountain rescue teams climbed to the Hog’s Back on the standard south side route and into the upper Reid Glacier to assess conditions there. They confirmed the prediction that the warming trend made the recent wet snow even more unstable which kept ground teams off of the upper mountain that day.
When the weather finally broke late Thursday, June 27, visibility improved enough for aerial searching. The Oregon Army Guard flew searchers over the Leuthold Couloir route that evening, but no clues were observed. Late in the week an individual who had climbed the Leuthold Couloir the same day as Mr. Adams reported to the Sheriff that he had observed a single set of crampon tracks and a headlamp veering north off the route toward Yocum Ridge early in the morning on June 22. On this information, aerial searching concentrated on the upper portions of the route, Yocum Ridge and then the Sandy Glacier Headwall. Clear weather on Friday and Saturday allowed thorough aerial searching of the upper mountain. On Saturday afternoon, a helicopter team spotted a body presumed to be Mr. Adams on the upper Sandy Glacier. The body was located around 8400′ in a hazardous area of heavy rock fall and was surrounded by rock debris. The remainder of Saturday was devoted to planning a safe means of recovering the body.
On Sunday, June 30, 10 PMR rescuers and two American Medical Response (AMR) Reach and Treat medics left the Top Spur Trailhead around 3:00 a.m. The teams split at McNeil Shelter, with one team of seven PMR rescuers assigned to ascend the Sandy Glacier to the body. The second team including three PMR rescuers and the two AMR medics climbed Cathedral Ridge to scout the most efficient route off of the glacier.
The glacier team traveled up the middle of the glacier in safe areas free of rock fall while skirting the open crevasses. They established a staging area around 8200’ where they assessed the rock fall and other hazards in the chute where the body lay. The rock fall was minimal at that hour so the decision was made to attempt the recovery. A rope team of three rescuers ascended to an area that was level with the elevation of the body and adjacent to the rock filled chute. The remaining four rescuers scanned the slopes above watching for any falling rocks or ice. The team of three set an anchor from which two rescuers dashed into the higher risk area and packaged the body in a portable plastic litter called a Sked. They quickly moved out of the area as the package was pendulumed from the anchor manned by the third member of that rope team. Once back at the safe area, the full team packaged the body more carefully for the journey down the mountain.
Meanwhile, the Cathedral Ridge team located a saddle on the ridge and found a safe and efficient route from there down the Glisan Glacier to the Timberline Trail. Once the glacier team had lowered the package down and across the Sandy Glacier, the ridge team raised it to the saddle and over the ridge. They then lowered it to the Glisan Glacier on the north side of the ridge. They lowered the package down the glacier to Timberline Trail. There they transferred the package to a large team from Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue. Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue completed the arduous task of carrying the package over five miles of snow-drifted and rocky trail to the trail head. The PMR teams were out of the field around 4:00 p.m. The package was delivered to the trail head around 7:00 that same evening.
This eight-day search and recover effort required many hours from committed rescuers and support staff, many of them volunteers. PMR rescuers logged 639 hours in the field. The responding teams and agencies included:
• Portland Mountain Rescue
• Oregon Army National Guard
• Air Force 304th Rescue Squadron
• Mountain Wave Communications
• Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue
• American Medical Response Reach and Treat
• Hood River Crag Rats
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / National Weather Service
• Corvallis Mountain Rescue
• Deschutes County Mountain Rescue
• Eugene Mountain Rescue
• American Red Cross
• Estacada Fire Department
• Clackamas County Chaplain
• Timberline Lodge (RLK Corp.)
• Central Washington Mountain Rescue
• Ski Patrol and Rescue Team from the Seattle area (SPARTA)
• Hood River County Sheriff’s Office
• Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.
• 73720410.1 0099885-10004.003
The upper parts of Mt. Hood and other Cascade volcanoes involve complex and dangerous terrain in which a climber easily can lose their route. PMR encourages climbers to:
• Know the route
• Know the conditions
• Be prepared
• Have a backup plan
For any venture into the back country, hikers and climbers need solid navigation skills and should carry and know how to use map and compass to stay on route. Mr. Adams was carrying a cell phone, but it was turned off or damaged and could not be pinged to help identify his location. He was not carrying an emergency communication beacon, but the nature of his injuries suggest that he would not have been able to activate such a device once disaster struck him. This mission illustrates the difficulty of finding a missing person in the back country when they do not have the ability to communicate their location.