GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. - A cloud bank hugging the flanks of Mount Hood frustrated the air search for two missing climbers yesterday, a day after their companion was found dead on a glacier on Oregon's highest mountain.
Rescuers had to bring in a helicopter and an airplane to conduct the search because fresh snow had created avalanche dangers for crews working on foot.
Skies had cleared yesterday morning, but the weather worsened again and the mountain became shrouded by a low cloud. The search aircraft - a helicopter and airplane - returned to their bases.
At nightfall, search crews ended operations for the day with plans to evaluate options this 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 T. 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.
On Saturday, crews found Gullberg's body on the glacier at 9,000 feet. He was from Des Moines, Wash.
His equipment, including a camera with photographs of the climbers, was found scattered around the glacier. Crews have looked over the photos for landmarks and other clues to the location of the two missing climbers - Vietti, of Longview, Wash., and Nolan, of Portland.
After eight inches of snow fell on the 11,249-foot mountain overnight, avalanche dangers in the higher elevations yesterday made a rescue mission on foot too risky.
Still, officials had not given up hope that Nolan and Vietti would be found alive, saying they were experienced climbers.
In 25 years, Mount Hood 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 digging a snow cave during a sudden storm.
The latest search, almost exactly three years after another trio of experienced climbers died on Mount Hood during a December 2006 blizzard, has generated heated debate about the wisdom of tackling the mountain during the winter, when brutal storms can move in quickly.