Skip to comments.Mt. Hood Body Identified As Kelly James
Posted on 12/18/2006 8:47:53 AM PST by george76
A missing climber found dead in a snow cave on Mount Hood was identified as a Dallas man who had placed a distress call to relatives a little more than a week ago, a person close to the family said Monday.
Searchers found the cave Sunday near the spot located by cell phone signals traced from Kelly James, who made a four-minute call to his family Dec. 10 just below the summit, said Jessica Nunez, a spokeswoman for the climber's family.
On Monday, a recovery team was expected to retrieve the body, which remained on the mountain over night because darkness made it too dangerous to retrieve. The search for two other climbers also was to resume on the treacherous north side of Oregon's highest mountain.
His body was found in a second snow cave near the first, about 300 feet below the summit. Rescuers found two ice axes, a sleeping bag or pad and rope in the first. It was not known if any gear was in the second cave.
Monday's search would center on possible descent routes on Eliot Glacier and Cooper Spur, relatively lower levels of the mountain, in case the other two got down that far...
"Eliot Glacier is real dangerous so we will do that by air only," Hughes said Monday. "It's a bad avalanche area with crevasses. There are still people in crevasses that have never been recovered."
Searchers dug through the first cave to ensure no one was there and took the equipment, which will be examined for clues. The second cave with the climber's body was found a short time later.
It was not immediately clear which cave was occupied first, or why or when the climber, or climbers, decided to move from it.
(Excerpt) Read more at examiner.com ...
I can't judge whether or not he could have gone back to the snow cave without an axe. It just depends on the specifics so much, and I don't have them. Roamer is good to ask that of. Not that he is familiar with Mt. Hood or that specific area, but he's the one who allows for the possibility and he knows how important axes can be.
It appears that scenario regarding the fate of the other two has them going alone to the spot where two axes were found, leaving Kelly James in the snow cave, then meeting with an accident. How to account for Kelly's injury? But roamer's scenario accounts for it very well.
If the scenario of the two being without Kelly when they had their accident is correct, then yes, the ice axes would be theirs, not Kelly's. Question then: where are Kelly's tools??
That would be my assessment. They all had an accident, with James witnessing the loss of his two friends. Hurt physically and mentally, on his call to his son, he didn't have the wits about him to make the hard task of informing them and came up with all he could at the moment, that one was in town and the other on a plane.
I figure he watched the other two fall while he was barely able to save himself. He ended up being hurt and alone, unable to make it down on his own.
I don't know if the other two had cell phones that worked, but that certainly would explain why they didn't use James's cell phone that did work.
Search officially ends for the other two. The families of the two missing made the decision to end the search today.
Very sad...May God bless all involved.
I'm sure a lot of people will keep searching as soon as it is safe to do so.
LOL! yah, probably quite wise on your part. Climbers are a cliquish bunch, and don't suffer fools well.
I hope you understand- I didn't mean to imply that you were a fool, but that they (CC.com) were up to their eyeballs in fools, and were kinda getting cranky toward strangers.
It could be misconstrued as an unkind remark. Please forgive me.
The traverse back to the cave seems to be over snowpack, and the trail was already "kicked in", so he had good feet... The S&R guys didn't seem to be having great difficulty moving on that trail- What I saw of it on TV... They were roped and belayed, but seemed to be moving comfortably, so it doesn't seem to be out of the question. That can be deceiving though.
This also negates one of the theories at the climbers' forum, where they suggest perhaps he dislocated his shoulder in a self-arrest, which would mean he had an axe in his hand of the arm that got injured. Right? Or is this still a possibility?
Self-arrest is a reasonable theory for the injury, but that would pre-suppose his axes were with him, and suggests that his buddies left him totally unprepared- That is the thing that bugs me the most. They would not have left him that way.
How does the possibly cut rope fit into all this?
As I said before, the rope may or may not indicate a cut-away scenario. It would be incidental until more evidence presents.
Did you see this? Autopsy reports say that James died of hypothermia. The autopsy results on James also showed that he had no disabling injuries and that he had been dead for several days before his body was found. Dehydration may have been a contributing factor in his death and tests are being done to try to make a determination.
What about the reported dislocated shoulder? So he was not physically injured after all?
Most recent update from The Oregonian:
"Lewman said that during an autopsy on James on Wednesday, neither a physical exam nor X-rays revealed any broken bones or dislocations. [Dr.Larry Lewman, Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office]
Wow--Now I don't know what to think?????
It certainly is puzzling.
>>Climber James died of hypothermia, had been dead several days
Kelly James, the 48-year-old landscape architect whose body was recovered from a snow cave on Mount Hood Monday, died of hypothermia, said Dr. Larry Lewman of the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office.
Lewman said that during an autopsy today on Jame, neither a physical exam nor X-rays revealed any broken bones or dislocations. Searchers and rescue officials did believe that James had a dislocated left shoulder, most likely during the ascent of the mountain.
"He might have had some sprains that you might not be able to document,'' Lewman said.
Lewman said it appears that James probably died not too long after he spoke to relatives by cellular phone Dec. 10.
Lewman said it appears that James was also dehydrated, but that the results of chemical tests to confirm that are still pending.
James, from Dallas, Texas, along with 37-year-old Brian Hall, also of Dallas, and New Yorker Jerry "Nikko" Cooke, 36, set out to scale the summit of Mount Hood on Dec. 8. James' body was found by searchers Sunday, and transported to the state medical examiner's office Tuesday.
Stuart Tomlinson <<
I think this explanation still fits in with the scenario of them having trouble descending and his seeing his friends lost. If he was hypothermic by 12/10, his ramblings would make some sense. But... if he died shortly after that call, how did the Tuesday cell phone turn on happen?
You would have to get a better definition of what "he died not too long after" means. What is "not too long"?
Earlier on this thread I posted that I think James died close to the time the cell phone was turned on, then went off. I think he turned it on as a last act before losing conciousness forever, as a way of reaching out to his family.
I would define that as within the framework of "not too long after". But someone else, including the medical examiner, might be thinking it was within hours or minutes of his conversation with his brother. That might be, but would leave the question of how did the cell phone get turned on sometime Tuesday.
I had no doubt that he died of hypothermia. As to there being no shoulder injury or other injury found, I would say those who found him are the ones who said he did, so they should be quizzed more about it. The possible scenario that there was an accident involving the three, with the other two being lost first and James left alone, is still just as valid.
Thanks for your comments!
Wow, very interesting news! I wonder what made the SAR say he had an "obvious" arm injury? Very puzzling.
Maybe when they find the other climbers, more of the puzzle pieces will fit together.
I think those who said he did have an arm injury would need to be quizzed about why they said that.
I've only heard bits and pieces of the phone call from James. Can you tell me what exactly he said?
and they ask why we climb ?
There is a link here on some post with info about the content of the call. It's a few pages back but I don't remember which one. I didn't have time to follow the link.
However. Seems he said some things that were true and others that sounded fanciful, as if he was partly rational and partly not. The gist was he felt very cold and very tired and very wet (I think I just heard there was freezing rain in that storm). He was in a snow cave and the other two and gone for help. He made some weird comments about one of them flying in a plane and the other one going to or already being in town. I don't know the exact wording but it wasn't coherent.
He did not say there had been an accident or that the two had been lost. But he was clearly in trouble and not operating on all cylinders. I think his brother asked him if he was hurt and I believe he said something like, no, but cold, wet and tired.
Thanks. I thought all along he had said he was injured.
I believe he was asked and actually said no. The injury report came from those who found him. Something about his shoulder I believe. That seems strange since it conflicts with the examiner's report. I think he could have been injured and said no when asked, given the state of being he was in. So I don't go by that as proof of whether he was or wasn't.
I am a big ole' baby havin' grown up in the Big Sky country and nearly havin' gotten frostbite on all my fingers and toes when I was a child, but I can still see how this would call to a spirit, easily.
Maybe when the water got into it? A short?
I think--since we know he was frozen solid when found-the shoulder that looked misshapen--probably was just frozen the way he was laying on it.
The most beautiful picture--for us mountain lovers!
God bless all involved with this horrible accident!
Probably even more valid. There is now no evident reason he would have been left behind, and I must emphasize again, the very last thing they would do as climbing partners is to separate in any way.
What bothers me now is that he was found wearing a "lightweight" jacket, and was not in possession of his gear rack (rock/ice accessories). He seemed to have only a pack (which may have contained other items). Add to that the idea he left his axes and ground pad at the belay point (if in fact they were his, which I am still inclined to believe).
What this means to me is that he must have been deep in the throws of hypothermia long before entering the snow-cave, as "casting off" things and stripping off clothes (where is his heavy coat?) happens near the end of the hypothermia cycle.
Perhaps the "small cave" at the belay station was James' initial attempt to "dig in"... Perhaps he was severely hypothermic before he decided that his little "cave" wasn't working out so good and in a mild state of dimentia, left his axes and etc, and wandered off to the primary cave- Throwing his rack along the way and shedding clothes to be taken by the wind.
I dunno. :(
If you scenerio is the true, which I believe it is, getting back to the real snow cave in 100 mph winds was no easy task. I was once in extremely high winds, in the dead of winter, trying to get from point A to point B and it was horrible. I did find a slight shelter from the wind along the way to catch my breath.I can imagine James getting more hypothermic along the way, and probably losing things as he went to ease the burden of his path. The things he shed could very well be buried by now.
I wonder if the sheriff and others will change their theory in light of the autopsy. Why would someone volunteer to stay behind with a half of an orange, light clothing and no equipment.
About the phone call home, everything he said sounded lucid and truthful except for the questions pertaining to his buddies. He said that one was flying a plane, the other went down to town to get help. It makes me wonder about the phone connection and if the son misunderstood about the buddies or if there was a clue in the statements.
The son did say he immediately knew his father was in trouble by the sound of his voice.
It did strike me that the relationship between the husband and wife was one of protecting the other from harsh facts. He told the son more info than he told his wife. And her response to him was the same.
I agree that there's no valid reason for them to be split up, or if they had to leave him they would've done better by him.
If James were more hypothermic than the others at first (a possibility), if the others were trying to get down for help they would have done better by him (assuming they could). Tried taking him with them (he looks small compared to the others, to me) or leaving him with as much as they could to protect him if it came to that.
As for his not having on a heavy coat and shedding it earlier, are we certain he was wearing a heavy coat? Wonder what was in the backpack. I only ask because now they're saying these men weren't outfitted to withstand such harsh conditions or a prolonged climb. For example...no sleeping bags?? Are there pictures of them that confirm heavy coats?
I haven't the time to keep abreast of all the details.
I doubt if he had a heavy coat with him. The sheriff said that after seeing the photos, he was even more worried about their ability to survive, because they were lightly equipped. I take that to mean he could see what kinds of jackets, etc., they were wearing. Plus, James was found with no insulating-type jacket, just a waterproof jacket. So my uneducated guess is they were dressing light, as they were planning on a quick ascent and decent. When you are physically active, you don't need many warm layers. That's my guess.
Here is a link to the most up to date info.
Yeah, especially on a steep, slippery slope with no gear and no visibility...
If we assume they spent the night, and woke up early on Saturday, is it possible the entire scenario might happen before the storm rolled in?When did the storm actually hit?
For instance, if the accident occurred before 10 am, and the storm hit late... like 4pm, is it possible he could have followed such a scenario as I proposed and still make it to the big cave in moderate winds (at least alot less that hurricane) and daylight?
Thanks, but I can't find the "info"! Is there a link to click on?
It takes a minute to load. Underneath the video's is an update and timeline. It say's "here's what we know". The pictures are all on that page as well as videos taken by some of the rescuers.
I went back and checked, and there are a lot of links. Besides the timeline, the pictures and videos, there are links to the latest news, etc.
See, that doesn't work for me...even a perfect day up there has to be in the teens, and probably below zero. we're talking 10300ft, that is positively polar.
When working, I can see being in a light jacket (better not to sweat), but the minute one is still, like when on belay, or whil waiting on point, or even just at rest stops... The minute one would stop moving, one would get cold REALLY fast.
Lightly equipped would include layered personal warm-wear by necessity. It might preclude a bivybag, stove, less rope, etc...
Over at the cascade climber forum a rescue worker said that given what was found it seems the climbers had a choice. Either to keep moving or start dying. In other words, the climbers knew that either way there was not much of a chance that they would survive because the weather had turned treacherous. So in regards to this thought, it could be, James chose to stay behind. Not to sound gloomy but perhaps he wanted his body found for the sake of his family. His wife was interviewed by Katie Couric tonight and without coming out and saying it, in the last conversation with him, it seems his wife knew and he knew, he would not make it. And she said something about the position of his fingers. When the rescue worker removed James glove to get a look at his ring, James had made it easy to be identified by the position he put his ring finger in.
I saw the interview with James' wife on (gag)CBS News(gag) tonight. One thing his wife said was that James' body was found, he had his lefthand glove off, and he had all his fingers folded in except for his ring finger, leaving his ring finger showing. Isn't that interesting?
She also said that in his phone call, they both knew it was the kind of phone call that no one wants. So they were kind-of "acting" during the phone call, acting like everything was okay when they both knew it wasn't. I guess that helps me understand why he didn't come out and give details about what happened. (Although if it was me, I'm pretty sure I'd spout off as many details as possible.)
Part of Transcript.
Couric: Karen, when word came that they had found Kelly, what did they tell you?
James: The sheriff came in and he said, "I have bad news. We have a body and it's deceased. And we need to identify it." I said, "look for Kelly's ring." The rescue worker that came to see Frank, he found Kelly, he said that when he walked into the cave it was so peaceful, and so serene. And there was Kelly. He was lying on his side with his head on his pack like we've seen a million times when he's been camping. And he had taken off his right glove, and he folded every finger back except the signature ring and put it out. And he knew. He wanted to be identified, and he wanted to come home to us. And when we told the kids, they were so proud of him because he had, he was still thinking of us, to say "look who I am, and it's time to come home."
One thing that struck me is how she said they both acted like everything was okay, knowing otherwise.
Every couple has their way of doing things, but I guess I am more of a say it as it is. I would say I am dying and want to tell you the following (after giving basic relevant info. to find me) and then if they found me great but at that time I would be surrendered and honest.
Yet we never know until it happens to us and maybe that truth in and of itself would be too much to handle and would take the focus off what needed to be said. Who knows. Either way it is hard and he did seem to be somewhat delirious at that point as well. My sense then is that when they were looking for him she felt very strongly that he was already dead. Yet held out a grain of hope.