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Local 'Rat' Experiences Surreal Recovery posted on 08/01/2013
A several-day search for a climber missing on Mount Hood came to an end June 29 when the body of 59-year-old Kinley Adams, a dentist from Salem, was found.

Several search-and-rescue teams, law enforcement agencies, and military detachments were in involved in the effort, including the Hood River Crag Rats – a local mountain search and rescue group.

Dale Crockatt, a Welches realtor and member of the Crag Rats, told The Mountain Times that Adams was found on an access to the Sandy Headwall route, “But we believe he fell to that point from above.”

During the rescue mission, Crockatt and three others were aboard a Chinook helicopter with binoculars, peering out the open cargo bay door, hoping to catch a glimpse of something out of the ordinary.

“We did notice – and it was what we were all looking for – a little bit of unnatural color,” Crockatt said.
That unnatural color was later determined to be the body of Adams, which was found at 8,400 feet and recovered by rescue workers June 30. An autopsy later determined he died from severe head trauma
.
“It was mixed emotions,” Crockatt said of the group’s discovery. “You’re happy, but you’re sad.”

Rescue attempts had been hampered throughout the week because of poor weather conditions. Searches began June 22, several hours after Adams was due back from the climb.

Hood River Crag Rat Todd Wells said he went up with rescuers at 5 a.m. on June 28 – taking advantage of a break in the weather – searching on skis for Adams.

They dropped in at Illumination Saddle, around 9,000 feet, and traversed the glacier before ending the search at 5 p.m.

Although the improved weather made searching easier in some ways, it had made it difficult in others.
“It was starting to get warm and there was a fair amount of rockfall,” Wells said.

“There’s a lot of objective danger,” fellow Crag Rat Brian Hukari, added. “Ice, rocks, avalanches … That was really tough snow.”

Anatomy of the mission
Crockatt recalled riding in the Chinook, on the edge of the clouds.

“It is so surreal, hanging over the back deck … attached by a small strap,” he said. “We laid on the deck, up to our armpits, to look all the way under the helicopter. We searched for colors and irregular tracks.”

At the end of the first tank of fuel, after about two hours of searching, a member of the team saw a spot of red around Yocum Ridge on the upper Sandy Glacier. There wasn’t enough fuel to pursue the find, so the team returned to Troutdale to refuel.

Then the surreal aspect of the rescue rose to a new level. Before they got back in, the pilot notified the Crag Rats that the flight engineer noticed a hydraulic leak during the first flight.

“He was able to maintain the level and pressure manually,” Crockatt said. “The crew was confident they could manage the problem through the next flight, but if any of us were uncomfortable about flying, they understood if we did not go.”

The Crag Rats looked at each other, smiled, and loaded up.
“Thirty minutes later we located the body,” Crockatt said.

by Larry Berteau.MT and Ben Mitchell, Hood River News

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