Air search for missing climbers canceled until Monday

A cloud bank hugging the flanks of Mount Hood frustrated the air search for two missing climbers today, a day after their companion was found dead on a glacier on Oregon’s highest mountain.

Rescuers had to bring in a helicopter and airplanes to conduct the search because new snow had created avalanche dangers for crews working on foot.

Skies had cleared this morning, but the weather worsened again and mountain became shrouded by a low cloud in the afternoon. The search aircraft — a helicopter and a fixed-wing airplane — returned to their bases.

At nightfall, search crews ended operations for the day with plans to evaluate options Monday morning, said Jim Strovink, spokesman for the Clackamas County sheriff.

“The weather, that’s what’s hampering this operation,” Strovink said.

The three climbers — 26-year-old Luke Gullberg, 24-year-old Anthony Vietti and 29-year-old Katie Nolan — had begun their ascent on the west side of the mountain about 1 a.m. Friday and were due back that afternoon, but failed to return.

On Saturday, crews found Gullberg’s body on the glacier at the 9,000-feet level. Authorities said he was from Des Moines, Wash.

His equipment also was found scattered around the glacier, including a camera with at least 20 photos of the climbers. Crews have looked over the photos for landmarks and other clues to the location of the two missing climbers — Vietti, of Longview and Nolan, of Portland.

“It looked like they were confident and having a good time,” Strovink said of the photographs.

After eight inches of snow fell on the 11,249-foot mountain overnight, avalanche dangers in the higher elevations today made a rescue mission on foot too risky.

“Nobody is going to want to tromp around in that snow,” said Steve Rollins, a Portland Mountain Rescue leader.

Still, officials had not given up hope that Nolan and Vietti could still be found alive, calling them experienced climbers. Strovink said he didn’t believe the climbers had a shovel, which could be used to build a snow cave to keep them out of the elements. But, he said, “They were well equipped otherwise.”

The Oregonian newspaper reported today that Gullberg was a sales clerk at the outdoor retailer and cooperative REI in Tukwila, and he studied writing and English at Central Washington University.

“He was very adventurous,” Stacy Cleveland, his cousin, told the newspaper. “He did a lot of hiking and climbing and things a lot us would never attempt.”

Relatives of the three climbers were gathered at Timberline Lodge, a ski lodge on the flank of Mount Hood and a staging area for the rescuers, to await more news. They were comforted by Dennis Simons, a nondenominational volunteer chaplain for the police and fire departments in nearby Sandy.

“They are grieving and hoping,” he said.

The three climbers, all Christians, met through church activities, Simons said, and Nolan has traveled extensively for Christian causes.

Simons said the experience of Nolan and Vietti also was giving their relatives hope. He said Nolan had made the summit of other Cascade Range peaks, and the three had climbed together before. “They know how to survive in the snow,” Simons said.

Mount Hood is a popular site among climbers in the United States. In 25 years, it has been the site of dozens of climbing accidents and fatalities. The worst on record happened in May 1986 when nine people — seven students from Oregon Episcopal School and two adults — died after they dug a snow cave during a sudden storm.

Talk to us

More in Local News

William Talbott II pleads his innocence before a judge sentences him to life with out parole at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Everett, Wash. A Snohomish County judge sentenced William Talbott II to life in prison without parole, for murdering a young Canadian couple in 1987. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Cold-case murder conviction reversed due to juror’s bias

William Talbott, the world’s first convicted forensic genealogy defendant, was accused of killing a young Canadian couple in 1987.

Dr Chris Spitters (center), Interim Health Officer, makes makes his address Monday evening during a Special Meeting of the Snohomish Health District Board of Health at the Administration Builiding in Everett on March 2, 2020.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Chris Spitters, Snohomish County’s chief health officer, to step down

The physician who has been the official voice of the pandemic here says his departure is not work-related.

Man identified after fatal fall from Arlington cell tower

Michael Vasquez, 24, of Las Vegas, fell about 140 feet while working Saturday afternoon.

Carpenters from America and Switzerland build the first "modular home" made from cross-laminated timber, inside a warehouse on Marine View Drive on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Affordable housing’s future? Innovative home built in Everett

Swiss and American carpenters built the nation’s first “modular home” made of cross-laminated timber.

Houses at the end of the 2100 block of 93rd Drive SE in Lake Stevens used to front a forest. Now the property has been clearcut to make way for a new Costco store near the intersection of Highway 9 and 20th Street SE. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)
Lake Stevens councilmember says he profited off Costco deal

Until now, Marcus Tageant would not confirm his role in the multimillion-dollar sale of acreage that is soon to be a Costco.

Police: Student, 13, falsely accused classmate of making threat

The student alleged the classmate called to say there would be a shooting at Hidden River Middle School.

John Lovick
State Rep. Lovick gets nod for state Senate

After Legislative District 44 Democrats nominated him, his House seat opened for party jockeying.

Brian Loomis and Michelle Moch browse for a live Christmas tree from Adopt A Stream on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
These holiday trees can liven a salmon’s home as well as your own

Adopt A Stream Foundation is selling native trees. Return them after the holidays, and they’ll become critical fish habitat.

Lake Stevens resident Rick Trout shows a Feb. 2020 photo of the rising lake level in front of his home after a storm. (Isabella Breda / The Herald)
Some Lake Stevens homeowners now must buy flood insurance

Updated FEMA maps show some lakeside homes now sit in a designated flood hazard area, due to a warming climate.

Most Read