Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Condolences?

I remember the consternation of a friend of mine whose father died suddenly of a heart attack just days before her wedding. Friends arrived at the house with a wedding gift in one hand and a copy of her father’s obituary in the other. It seemed awful beyond words, completely incongruous to her, for such opposite events and conflicting emotions to sit side-by-side in her life.

It has been a lot like that for us this December—not just the fact that Christmas cards arriving at our house this year have notes of condolence appended to the bottom, but also the fact that before the Christmas decorations came down and got packed away for another year, we gathered in Dallas with family and friends for Kelly’s funeral. Right next to the glittering Christmas tree Karen decorated in anticipation of Kelly’s safe return, we wept and held each other close—aching together over the husband, father, brother, son, and friend we lost on the mountain. It’s difficult to fit that scene together with the joyous festivities we usually associate with Christmas.

Then again, perhaps this is the most fitting way of all to celebrate the birth of Jesus—with a profound awareness of our own brokenness and a fresh recognition of our desperate need for the rescue operation God mounted when He sent His Son to earth. Maybe the pain and disappointments so many carry in their hearts will serve to remind us all that we actually need the Child who was born two thousand years ago. We hope Kelly’s life and death have brought that message of hope to many—a hope that outlives the disappointments and tragedies of this world and refuses to let death have the last word.

We are grateful for those notes so many have written online and on cards. Thanks to those who attended Tuesday evening's visitation and uplifted us with your loving support and the stories you told of your friendships with Kelly. Our hearts were comforted by those who attended the funeral and shared both in our loss as well as in our hope that we will see Kelly again. We know we aren't the only ones who will miss him.

Please continue to hold up the members of our family, especially Karen, the four James’ kids, Jason, Ford, Katie, and Jack, Kelly’s mom, LouAnn, and his four siblings, Frank, Fred, Ben and Traci. The days ahead won't be easy for any of them. We also ask you to continue to pray for the families of Brian and Nikko with whom we share the lack of closure on this ordeal.

With hope in the Christ Child,

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
—Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kelly James Funeral Service

December 27, 2006
12:00 noon CST

Fellowship Bible Church
9930 No. Central Expressway
Dallas, Texas

We love you Kelly!

Visitation—Tuesday, December 26, 2006, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Restland Funeral Home
9220 Restland Road
Dallas, TX 75243

Saturday, December 23, 2006

From Frank James, on Behalf of the James Family

The following statement was released Friday, December 22:

This has been a difficult time for our family. But, we have peace and comfort—peace in our hearts that the Lord is with us as we grieve and comfort in knowing Kelly was prepared to meet God.

As Christmas approaches, our family will hold each other closer and open our hearts for God to fill them with grace and love.

We wish to thank the millions of people who offered prayers and support during this most difficult time of our lives.

Specifically, we thank Sheriff Joe Wampler and the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, residents of Hood River and Clackamas counties, Oregon Air National Guard, State of Oregon, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Crag Rats, Portland Mountain Rescue, Corvallis Search & Rescue, Captain Christopher Bernard and the U.S. Air Force 304th Rescue Squadron, Hood River Airport, T-Mobile, ARACAR, IOMAX and the dozens of volunteer rescue workers who donated their time and risked their lives.

We especially thank Sgt. Josh Johnston who found Kelly.

The efforts made by the rescue workers on Mt. Hood were heroic and our family is grateful to them.

Thank you.

Frank James

Media, please note:

The James family is no longer taking interview requests, as they are focused on preparing for funeral services for Kelly James. At this time, the details of those services are not available.

Also, the photos taken from Kelly James’ camera will not be made public.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Donate to the Hood River County SAR Fund

For those who have wanted to do something ever since the news that three climbers were lost on Mt. Hood and now, the families have requested that donations be made to the Hood River County Search and Rescue Fund.

This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to express our support, gratitude and admiration for the countless volunteers who risked their lives and worked to the point of exhaustion to bring our loved ones home.

We will never forget what they have done. Never.

Donations can be made to Hood River County SAR Fund
Account No. 153659730656
US Bank Hood River Office
1309 12th St
Hood River, OR 97031
(541) 386-3110

The fund is located at the Hood River branch, but donations can be made at any Oregon US Bank branch.

To search for another bank location:

Domestic Wire Instructions
US Bank
Hood River Oregon
Routing/ABA# 123000220
Account No. 153659730656

International Wire Instructions
US Bank Hood River Oregon USA
Swift Code USBKUS44IMT
Routing/ABA# 123000220
Account No. 153659730656

Thank you from all of us.

Friday Updates

11:30 p.m. EST:

Yesterday, in Karen's interview with Katie Couric and Frank's with Larry King, both related the powerfuly story of what Sgt. Josh Johnston saw when he entered Kelly's snow cave. For those who missed these interviews, Josh told Frank, Kelly was lying on his side with his right hand extended. His glove was off, which is highly unusual under those extreme conditions, and his fist was clenched with only his ring finger extended—the finger bearing the ring with Kelly's initials, JKJ. They concluded that Kelly wanted to be identified and also that his last thoughts were of the family he loved.

Another personal note of interest: the orange jacket that Frank wore all week belonged to his brother Kelly.

As we come to the close of another day, know that the families of all three climbers—Kelly, Brian and Nikko—continue to grieve and struggle over the lack of closure to this desperate search effort. We miss our three loved ones more than words can say. It is comforting to all of us to know that so many are continuing to pray.

Thanks again for all of your thoughtful notes, emails and cards.

3:15 p.m. EST:

Today's interview on The Situation Room has been cancelled because of the space shuttle landing. This decision comes as a welcome relief to Frank. Please continue to pray for him and for the members of all three families.

2:34 p.m. EST:

Frank met today with the faculty and staff at Reformed Theological Seminary/Orlando, where he is president—an amazing group of loving friends who have stood with us from day one of this family crisis. He has one more brief interview this afternoon on CNN's The Situation Room. He has been through a grueling two weeks. His heart is very heavy. I ask you to hold him up in your prayers for this interview today. You will never know how much your prayer support means to us through this ordeal and now in the aftermath.

Thanks for your continuing love and support.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Friday, December 22, 2006

CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer—

4:00-6:00 and
7:00-8:00 p.m. EST

Wolf Blitzer interviews Frank James.

[cancelled for coverage of
space shuttle landing]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric6:30 p.m. EST

Katie will interview Karen James. This interview should be especially poignant, since Katie knows what it is like to lose a spouse.

If you missed the television interview, you can view it online at:

CNN's Larry King Live—9:00 p.m. EST

Larry King interview with Frank James,
brother of Kelly James.

Should be available online later at:

Hood River County Sheriff's Office Press Release

Hood River County Sheriff’s Office
Press Release
17:50 hrs

On December 20, 2006, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office suspended the search for missing climbers Brian Hall and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke due to weather. The Sheriff’s Office still has resources available to resume the operation when weather permits. Efforts will continue when weather and resources allow.

Sheriff Joe Wampler says, “The urgency that we have been deploying people, in hopes of saving lives, has now diminished. What we’re doing now, is concentrating efforts in certain areas, hoping to find Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke.”

On December 20, 2006, search efforts focused on checking snow anomalies reported to incident command staff on December 19, 2006. This included checking some areas on the southeast side of Mt. Hood, around White River. The source of the anomalies was determined to be naturally occurring formations in the snow and there were no tracks located, that would indicate the missing climbers utilized a southeast route of exit. The Hood River Sheriff’s Office was able to search the area with a fixed wing aircraft for about one (1) hour until weather forced an end to the air operations. Additionally, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Patrol assisted on the ground, with the investigation of the snow anomalies.

On December 20, 2006, the Office of the Oregon State Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on Kelly James. Per the medical examiner’s press release, the cause of death was hypothermia from exposure to environmental cold. Dehydration may have been a contributing factor and chemical tests are pending. There were no disabling injuries documented by either autopsy or x-ray. Mr. James had been deceased for several days prior to the discovery of his remains in the snow cave.

Based on observations gathered by searchers, on the ground and in the air, there is still data indicating that some sort of accident occurred, possibly limiting or hindering Kelly James’s mobility. There is still evidence to be reviewed in the incident. Det. Sgt. Tiffany, of the Hood River Sheriff’s Office, says that the investigation of the death is still on going.

The no fly zone around Mt. Hood that had been in effect since last week, has been lifted as of 17:03 hrs this date. Additionally, restrictions on Mt. Hood have been lifted and the mountain is now open for recreational activities.

Thursday Update

4:30 p.m. EST:

Today is a day of quiet for the families. Some are traveling home. Most are already at home. We are still counting on your prayers for us. The days ahead will be difficult for everyone, as everyone tries to return to their lives. Thank you again for all of your love and concern.

Many are asking about plans for the funeral and also the memorial funds, which are still developing. This update will give you where things stand at the moment.

Kelly's Funeral Service:

The information I have posted under "Kelly James Funeral Service" is current. The family has not yet announced a time for the service and will know that tomorrow. Just keep checking this blog.

Memorial Funds:

Two separate funds are currently being set up—1) for the Mt. Hood Search and Rescue effort and (2) for Kelly's children. These will be tax-deductible funds, but it takes time to set them up. Please bear with us as we make these arrangements.

Hopefully we will have more specific information to announce Friday.

With our gratitude,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday Updates -- Recovery Mission

5:45 p.m. EST

News that the search has shifted to a recovery operation and that the weather is about to slam the door on searchers again, is unspeakably difficult for everyone involved. Clearly, SAR personel are deeply frustrated that they were unable to find and rescue Kelly, Brian and Nikko in time. For the families—all three families—this inevitable decision means there is no closure. We remain profoundly indebted to those who have done everything possible to achieve a better outcome. As families, we are united in one large grieving family. The story isn't over for any of us until Brian and Nikko come off the mountain and are finally home again.

Frank has just spoken with family members, who remain firm in their hope that their loved ones will be found alive. No family member wants rescuers to take unnecessary risks during bad weather, but the sheriff reassured them that the search will continue when the weather clears.

Thank you for continuing to pray and for your many heartfelt messages to us.


4:45 p.m. EST: News Conference coming up momentarily


Sheriff Wampler has just announced the search is no longer a rescue mission, but a recovery mission. He has spoken with the families of Brian and Jerry. The sheriff said they will continue attempts to locate the two missing climbers. They feel good about the effort they have put out. The family will be departing soon. Wampler said everyone feels a personal commitment to the climbers and to their families. He will finish what he started.

"Our team was just awesome. Everyone in our office we worked with, everybody came together. We got the playbook out for a search on Mt. Hood. That worked wonderfully. We never had any downtime throughout the week. We always had jobs for people to do, and people willing to do it. We ran twenty-four hours a day on this thing. We're at that point right now."

See video should be available soon.

Please continue to pray for the family members as they leave Mt. Hood without any resolution to their crisis.

1:45 p.m. EST:

Sheriff Wampler (who is also a pilot) took off in fixed wing airplane this morning to look around the mountain before this next storm comes through. Yesterday, they took a couple of family members up in the plane to look around.

I'm learning from Frank that the family members didn't have the advantage of watching news coverage on television. It's a little like the difference between watching a football game on television versus sitting on the sidelines, or, probably more accurately, keeping up with the game from the locker room. So this aerial view was an incredible opportunity for family members to see more of what has been going on. Since Frank's arrived home, he's catching up on what we've all been seeing this week by watching news videos and television reports and also getting your messages and hugs.

The sheriff told reporters, "It gave them an opportunity to see where all this is going on up close and to see what we're going through, see what they [the climbers] went through. and I think they felt that. In a way it was good, but it was pretty emotional." Friends of family members have come in to help with support and to help in the search at lower elevations. Winter storm warnings are posted, so the weather is again a serious impediment. They are making the best of a small window of opportunity this morning.

Pray especially for Angela Hall who is now the family spokesperson.

1:20 p.m. EST:

There will not be any more news conferences unless there is new information to report.

Weather in Portland is stormy. They're having school closures. Search efforts are again hampered.

Frank spoke with Angela this morning. Brian and Nikko's families are holding firm. Some family members have gone home, but they're still holding out hope. They need our support more than ever now. Please continue to pray as you have done so faithfully throughout this whole crisis.

12:35 p.m. EST:

Sorry for the lapse in postings here. Frank arrived home safely last night. Delta Airlines was incredible to him. When he first tried to book a flight home, they said they were booked solid. Then the agent saw his I.D., came from behind the counter and gave him a hug. Then she went the extra mile and booked him first class.

In the airport he was stopped numerous times by fellow-travelers offering their condolences.

When he arrived in Orlando, a Delta official was waiting for him and whisked him off the plane. They had his luggage and took him to a different site where our daughter Allison and I picked him up. We are so very glad to have him home, although there is still a flurry of activity here. Frank is still in touch with both families in Portland and the sheriff's office in Hood River. Other media events and funeral plans are ongoing.

I will be providing additional information shortly.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What can you do?

So many are asking what they can do to show their love and support for our family as we grieve the loss of Kelly. Please know that we are touched by your messages and comforted by your prayers. We are stronger because we know you are standing with us. We are reading, and re-reading every message that comes in.

We are currently planning arrangements for a memorial service in Dallas, which most likely will not be until next week.

We will be making an announcement shortly about a memorial fund, which family members prefer in lieu of flowers. Please wait for that announcement. This will give us an opportunity to turn our grief for Kelly into something truly helpful.


Tuesday Updates


During one of the news conferences, the sheriff said that the rescue teams had failed the families by not reaching Kelly in time, but that he knew they had done their best.

The family wants everyone to know—and Frank is communicating this to Sheriff Wampler—that they have not failed anyone in any sense of the word. We can hardly express the gratitude we have for the extraordiary efforts of all of these dedicated people, from the leaders in the command center, to the climbers on the mountain, to those flying above Mt. Hood, and other who are operating behind the scenes. They have risked their lives. They have reached out to the grieving, agonizing family members. They have worked to the point of exhaustion. They have been gracious to the media and open with information. They and many, many others have volunteered and poured themselves into this rescue effort. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and we thank God for everyone of them.

For the family,
Carolyn James

3:30 p.m. EST:

Sheriff Wampler said the search is continuing. They have fixed-wing aircraft in the air. Visibility is is clear above 2500 feet. On the ground, searchers are on stand-by, and they are also using avalanche teams to probe areas where they think Brian and Nikko might be.

The sheriff also announced that Kelly's shoulder was dislocated.

I just spoke with Frank. He told me that Monday night Monday, Staff Sergeant Joshua Johnston with the 304th Pararescue Squadron—the the rescue climber who found Kelly—met privately with him. It was an extraordinary meeting, and a great comfort to Frank, and just another example of how incredible all members of the rescue team have been.

For a video interview of Joshua Johnston:


11:45 a.m. EST:

There is a news conference this morning at noon EST to report on search efforts for Brian and Nikko. should have it online live and also the video later. CNN will cover. Please continue to pray. Hearts are aching beyond words--over loss and uncertainty. Thank you again for your wonderful support.


An Open Letter to the Families of the Missing Climbers

Note: This is from another blog, but I think it's interesting to see how someone else viewed events in Oregon this week. Perhaps this helps to explain the tremendous outpouring of prayers and concern expressed across the nation and beyond for the climbers and their anguished loved ones. Painful as this week has been, and difficult as the days ahead promise to be, I have been deeply encouraged by your comments and emails (which I will share with Frank when he returns home). Thank you so much for caring about us and for taking the time to be with us in our grief. May this open letter serve as a gentle reminder for all of us to keep praying for the families of Kelly James, Brian Hall and Nikko Cooke and for the rescuers who are continuing to search. —Carolyn

Sunday, December 17, 2007

By Father Jonathan Morris

For 10 days now, we have accompanied you as you wait for the rescue of your loved ones, three stranded hikers on the 11,239-foot peak of Mount Hood in northern Oregon.

Admittedly, as a nation, we were somewhat guarded and detached when we got wind of their plight.

You surely understand.

It is easy to tune out reports of missing people. Some religious folk, no doubt, when at their best, offer up a few quick prayers for strangers in peril. But most of us, emotionally saturated with problems of our own, don’t even get that far. We go about our day, and hope bad news goes away, at least for us.

This time, it hasn’t. In fact, the news gets more intense and more personal even as natural hope for a positive outcome dims, with the setting of yet another day’s sun.

I've been ruminating today about what has made the difference. Why do I now care so much about Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke, three men I’ve never met? What makes this story different?

It’s you, all of you, three families that in tragedy have become one family. Together you have approached this never-ending nightmare with dignity, fortitude and shocking faith. You are an icon of what we would like to be.

This icon looks monolithic from afar, but up-close we see it is made up of precious little parts, virtues hard to come by in good times, and virtually inexistent in times of crisis, times like these.

• You are selfless. Your spokesman, Frank James, is Kelly’s brother, but when he speaks about Brian and Jerry - someone else’s husband, father, son, and brother - he does so with the same force and passion as when he speaks of Kelly.

We are in this together, all three families. We are doing a lot of hugging and a lot of praying.”
• You don’t complain. Instead, you call the rescuers heroes even when they are forced to rest for a day or two because of weather and fatigue.

"We want everyone to know we consider the rescue teams to be heroes for what they are doing.”

• You don’t lay blame. For days you prayed for good weather, and for days it never came. You kept praying, trusting God’s mysterious ways could be even better than your own.

"Today’s the day for courage and for prayers. Courage can help us see through this snowstorm, and our prayers can literally move mountains.”

Last night, deputy sheriff, Marc Smith, said rescuers have found one body, yet to be identified. No matter who it is, we know your spokesman will weep with all three families and then talk to us.

Because we now know him, and know all of you, he is sure to say something similar to what a family friend of Nikko Cooke said early this morning:

"This is extremely harsh news to receive now. But irrespective of which of the three has unfortunately lost his life, we share the grief.”
That’s the kind of selfless virtue that has seeped into all of us, from you.You went to bed last night without knowing which of the three men had died. We can’t really imagine the pain of such a sleepless night, but we can imagine what was on your heart and mind. You were hoping for the best for your own loved one, while also hoping for the best for the other two. And somehow, this hope for the best for all included a humble overture to God’s mysterious ways.

That’s something we’ve learned from you, and it’s something we won’t forget.

Today will be another day for search and rescue. Be sure and be comforted that no matter the fate of James, Brian and Nikko, your fate has become ours.

God bless,
Father Jonathan

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Updates

7:10 p.m. EST:

Kelly is now off the mountain, which is a great relief to our family. Sheriff Wampler reported at the latest news conference that Kelly had an arm injury that prevented him from climbing down the mountain.

Search efforts continue for Brian and Nikko. Please continue to pray. Not knowing is a nightmare for their families. Pray for the James family too. There is a lot of grief.

4:10 p.m. EST:

There is a news conference at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. EST. I believe this will be with Captian Bernard, who will give an update on continuing search efforts and progress on the recovery of Kelly James. See for live coverage if you don't have access to television coverage.


James Family Statement

This is a difficult day for all three families. Our hope is that Kelly, Brian and Jerry would all be rescued safely and that has led these families to become very, very close. We are persuaded that Kelly has been found, but I feel that I have two other brothers still on the mountain. And the James family is deeply, deeply grateful for the rescue efforts to date. And we wish, we wish the rescue workers Godspeed in their ongoing efforts to bring Brian and Jerry down that mountain safely We are also profoundly grateful for all of those who have prayed for our families. We find strength in your support. And we join all of you in your prayers for the safe return of Brian and Jerry. As Christians, we find peace that Kelly is with God. Kelly always told us that he felt closest to god when he was on the mountain. That is what drove him to climb. And we find enormous comfort in knowing that he lifted off that mountain from a place that he loved and doing something that he loved very, very much.

Thank you all for your support. The family is most grateful.

Frank James

Kelly James

We are devastated, as you can imagine. The family learned the news of Kelly's death last night. Frank was able to tell them privately. But all three families are in this together.

9:00 a.m. PST/noon EST there is a press conference. You can watch it on Frank will be making a statement for the family.

Know that he is holding up. But he certainly needs your prayers at this time.

Your support has meant the world to us.

Thanks again, from both of us.

Monday Morning Press Conference

There is a press conference scheduled for 12 p.m. EST/9 a.m. PST.

KATU will have a live stream at and CNN and FoxNews are likely to carry it.

Please continue to pray for the families.

Keep On Praying

All three families are grieving, and we know that you are grieving with us. This day has been a day of extreme highs and lows, and everyone has felt the blow of the death of one of the climbers. But we still have two missing climbers and families who desperately need us all to continue praying. We all have more work to do—SAR folks on the mountain and the rest of us our knees. Please pray for today's search efforts and the many wonderful volunteers and officials who are tirelessly putting their all into finding the missing climbers.

I was deeply touched by the words of Rob Marciano, CNN anchor who reported Sunday's tragic events. As he acknowledged how devastating this day was for everyone, he said this about my husband:

"You know [Frank James], the brother, has just been a rock this whole time. . . with the media and speaking on behalf of all the families. And it’s just weird not to see his face on TV to kinda share what the families are going through. Obviously it’s not good. And they‘ve been so positive here the last several days. I kinda want to see him. I kinda feel like he’s been our comforting soul of optimism. It’s tough not to have him with us."

Keep us all in your prayers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Updates

7:00 p.m. EST:

Right now, it is terribly hard to keep up with this. The news has come through that there is one fatality, found in a second cave. We don't know which climber, but our hearts are crushed anyway. I've added photos below of our guys. Please keep us in your prayers.

5:25 p.m. EST: Press conference news

This (the snow cave) tells us they knew what to do and they did it. The missing climbers may be in another snow cave nearby. SAR climbers retrieved the items in the cave and experts will assess them. They aren't giving up the search. The clues are too good.

This is a setback, but rescue workers are moving forward. Please keep the family members in your prayers. This is such an emotional roller coaster.


5:10 p.m. EST:

They've just announced that the snow cave was empty, except for a sleeping bag, 2 ice axes, and some rope. They are continuing to search in the area and follow the footprints and other clues. They can't tell us yet how recently someone was in the cave. Helicopters are still up. Still more daylight, and searchers indicating they will remain on Mt. Hood.


5:00 p.m. EST:

Press conference scheduled shortly. Usually carried live on but is also being covered on CNN and FOX.


4:45 p.m. EST:

I am glued to CNN, but I realize not everyone has access to television coverage, so I'll try to pull myself away and keep you informed.

They're showing live pictures of Mt. Hood. You can see a climber going down the north side, making fairly rapid progress. They expect to reach the snow cave today. They are descending toward that area of Eliot Glacier. Still have a couple hours more of daylight. There are several rescue climbers on the summit. Sky is still crystal clear. Don't see much snow blowing. There is a helicopter hovering in the area.

SAR (Search and Rescue) climbers are digging on the north side.

Capt. Chris Bernard said the lost climbers may be too weak to come out and wave for help. So SAR people have to find them. Rescue efforts will continue until the risk is too great. The SAR climbers will make that decision. They are prepared for night operations and are carrying enough equipment and supplies to stay up for 2-3 days.

RE: what happens when they find the climbers, here's one CascadeClimber's explanation:

Chinook helicopters have a 3ft square hole in the bottom of them that they are able to lower and raise a winch cable out of. If the person medically does not need to be immobilized, they can simply be loaded onto a 1-2 person carrier/seat called a "jungle penetrator". They clip into the ring at the end of the cable and are winched up into the aircraft. The hole is also large enough to accomidate a "litter", what rescuers use to transport people with broken legs, backs, etc. kind of a backboard with handles and rails around it. These can be hooked to the winch cable and guided into the helicopter from below. The latter is more difficult and time consuming, but still fairly standard practice.
I would say that winching them into the bird on the jungle penetrator is the most likely scenario. Another option is to do a "hot" landing on the summit, where flat enough ground allows for the helicopter to set down. They keep the engines running at full speed so there is no danger getting stuck. If the winds are high, they may very well use this option. They can also hover/land with only part of the aircraft on the mountain (like the back, where the door is).
Just for scale, chinook helicopters are about as big as a school bus.
The latest news conference video is available on


3:40 p.m. EST:

Weather remains clear. Conditions are "fairly ideal for rescuing" according to CNN weather reporter.

3:35 p.m. EST:

They have also seen footprints and possibly a "Y" carved in the snow, which experienced climbers do to tell rescuers, "Yes, we are here." The rescue workers are being put down above the targeted area. They will climb down. The area is solid ice, practically straight up and down. Subzero temperatures. Rescue workers can spend the night up there if necessary. It will be slow going. They are relatively optimistic.


News conference is happening now. CNN & FOX are covering. They say the target has narrowed. They have found an ice spike and a coil of rope.

3:10 p.m. EST:

CNN has live coverage of the current rescue efforts. They are going down into the area where they've seen clues of a climber. It's very steep in this area and there is avalanche danger. What they appear to have spotted is piled up snow that results from digging a snow cave. Please pray.


Searchers find signs of climbers.

A helicopter surveying the Mount Hood summit this morning has captured images of what appears to be a snow cave, scattered equipment and what looks like frozen tracks in the snow. Search organizers plan to airlift pararescuers to the summit by helicopter so they can make their way to the area by foot.

2:00 p.m. EST:

At 10:45 a.m. PST (1:45 p.m. EST) searchers were still shy of the summit, coming up from the south side of Mt. Hood. Lost climbers are thought to be on the north side.

To read more:

1:30 p.m. EST:

One of the CascadeClimber set up a feed to grab web camera images from Timberline Lodge. They are being archived today to a Fotki photo web site at This shows how clear the skies are today. Later we may be able to see people gathering, as events progress.

When the climbers are rescued, the plan is to air lift them to one of the Portland hospital's trauma centers.

The uncut new conference from this morning is up now:

KATU also has videos from yesterday, which may interest you as well.


12:40 p.m. EST:

The news conference at Mt. Hood just concluded. Approximately 100 volunteers have been mobilized as climbers and support/ personnel in a multi-agency effort to rescue Kelly, Brian and Nikko. Climbers expect to summit around 10:00 PST. They are focused on locating the site of cell phone signals, but other teams are following leads discovered on Saturday that are leading to another location--presumably where they may find Brian and Nikko.

They're expecting major developments today.

Brian's dad gave a statement. Hopefully, you'll be able to see the news conference at pretty soon. It takes them a while to get it up.

Our hearts are on the mountain.

12:00 noon EST:

"Searchers hope to reach Mount Hood peak by noon.

The lead team of searchers left for the Mount Hood peak at 6 a.m. PST and hope to make the top by noon.

The first team to head up the mountain is known as the hasty team. Those are searchers who are dispatched to the most likely locations where the lost climbers are holed up. On Saturday, the hasty team reached 10,600 feet - the highest searchers have made it since the search effort began.

Dale Atkins, an avalanche expert from Colorado, was on the lead team Saturday and is expected to be on the hasty team today, said Detective Jim Strovink of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Scaling te mountain takes about six to eight hours in ideal conditions. Today’s weather offers
climbers a rare window of opportunity. After a tumultuous week of weather, today’s winds will be calm and the sky will be clear."

-Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian

10:00 a.m. EST:

From one of the CascadeClimber posts as a tribute to the lost climbers:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out where the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood. At best, he knows the triumph of high achievement; if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

9:45 a.m. EST:

Good morning.

Yesterday was a disappointment for everyone, but the climbers remain encouraging and strong. See their website (CascadeClimbers) at the link to the right. In an article on the OregonLive website this morning, I read this about Saturday's search:

Still, there was plenty of progress, said Rocky Henderson, who led the south group's search efforts from the ground. Searchers got significantly higher than at any point in the past week, which will make it easier to summit today. The groups also conducted comprehensive searches of some lower areas that will allow them to focus more on higher elevations. Two experts said the risk of avalanche on the south side was lower than expected and likely to improve, barring more snowfall or a shift in winds.

Henderson said he expects about the same number of volunteers to show up today.

"We did our job today," he said. "Tomorrow will be a big push, then we'll have to reassess."

And this very encouraging bit of news. . .

Still, Hood yielded another clue: Black Hawk helicopters spotted an apparent piece of climbing equipment in the fading light about 300 feet from the top. It was enough to renew hopes that the men -- Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke -- might yet be found alive.

After a day of futility, searchers dubbed the discovery "a clue."

"A nice way to end the day," Hood River County sheriff's Deputy Jeff Scheetz said, descending from the northern base of operations in a snow cat.

You can read the full article at:

I just spoke with Frank. Obviously, yesterday was a terrible disappointment for him, and he faces the ongoing challenges of addressing the media and supporting family members. But he is still hopeful and gearing up for another long day of waiting. Please keep him in your prayers.

Let us keep our hopes up and continue to pray that God will be merciful to us today—that the weather will improve, that searchers will be safe and successful, and that Kelly, Brian and Nikko will come off the mountain alive before nightfall.

Our hope remains firm in the God who loves us and who rules the winds.

God Bless Our Climbers!

Above L to R: Brian Hall and Kelly James

Above and Below: Jerry "Nikko" Cooke

Below: Kelly and Karen James

Saturday's Search Effort

Search and Rescue efforts on Mt. Hood resume Saturday morning on Mt. Hood's south side above Timberline Lodge. The lost climbers ascended Mt. Hood on the north side, which is the location of Kelly's cell phone signals. Searchers intended to summit from the south, then go over to the north side and head for the location of the cell phone signals, but the weather prevented them. (Photographer Faith Cathcart)

After the news conference, where mothers of the three missing climbers each made statements, Brian Hall's mother, Clara Hall, is comforted by Sheriff Joe Wampler. This photo was taken at the Hood River airport where helicoptors were joining the search. (Photographer Steven Nehl)

Climbers approaching the summit of Mt Hood must detour around a crevasse on their approach and descent. (Photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr.)

A crew from the 152nd Nevada Air National Guard circles Mt. Hood in their C-130 searching for the missing climbers Saturday. The crew is using high powered cameras and IR (heat) sensing equipment. Maj. Allan Renwick looks out over Mt. Hood. Two flight crews were expected to search all night, stopping only to refuel. (Photographer Bruce Ely)

See video footage from the C-130 as it searched Mt. Hood Saturday:

These photos are from The Oregonian, Portland's newspaper.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Updates

11:45 p.m. EST:

This has been a long, hard day, and everyone is deeply disappointed that another day has passed, and we still don't have our three climbers back. Once again the weather proved to be too much. I have found much-needed encouragement from the climbers on the climbers' website. They are still optimistic and aren't giving up. That helps me keep going too.

I'm also encouraged by the acts of kindness that have filled this day. I can't help being moved by the outpouring of support and personal sacrifice that is coming from the rescue workers on the mountain and in the skies—people we don't even know—who were going all out to find our missing loved ones and bring them safely home.

Capt. Christopher Bernard went out of his way to make the day a little better for Kelly's kids. As you can imagine, the endless waiting is tough on them. Today, the captain pulled Jack (the youngest) aside and asked him if he'd like to take a look at a helicopter. He took Jack and Ford with him to see the copter and meet the pilot before it took off on its rescue mission.

Thanks for your notes and emails of encouragement and your persistence with us in prayer.

Until tomorrow . . .

5:25 p.m. EST:

This is hard to write, but rescue workers have been called off the mountain without locating any of the missing climbers. Weather conditions have become too severe. Air rescue efforts will continue, but ground efforts won't begin again until tomorrow. They are still hopeful and determined. This is hard for everyone, though.

4:50 p.m. EST:

There's a press conference at 5:00 p.m. CNN is running it; may be possible to catch on or or

4:29 p.m. EST:

From the Climber's blog:
"Next news conference is 2pm PT (37 mins from now). Fox says the Sheriff says 'no significant developments yet'... Nothing was said about the 2 unidentified climbers."

4:25 p.m. EST:

The climber's blog is a great source of current information. They're getting info from their fellow-climbers. They're pretty current and we're watching to see what they say.

They've reported spotting two climbers but aren't sure if they are the missing climbers. A helicopter is planning to move into that area and lower rescuers to that location. Here's info on that sighting:

Stay tuned . . .

2:15 p.m. EST:

Climbers on the south side of Mt. Hood are expected to summit in around 30 minutes. They will go over the top and down the north side to the location where Kelly is. They know his location.

On a different note . . . I just learned that women are asking if Frank James is married or single. I can clear up that question. He is very married.

Thanks for continuing to pray.


1:04 p.m. EST:

Rescue workers are on the mountain. They started at 4:00 a.m. PST. Temperatures are sub-zero (6 degrees at 12,000 ft), blowing snow and wind gusts are registering at 30 mph. The wind chill is around 30 below. According to Capt. Bernard, these climbers are excited to be on the mountain. They have avalanche experts on their teams. They are hopeful and hope to summit by mid-day.

Aerial support is active as well—Blackhawk helicopters and the C-130 aircraft from Reno, Nevada that was active Friday.

Moms of all three lost climbers spoke at the news conference.

If you want to follow discussions among the climbers, go to:


11:45 a.m. EST:

Frank just phoned. They are en route to the news conference. Last night all the families met with one of the "teenagers" who survived on Mt. Hood in the 70's for 13 days. Frank said, it really lifted everyone's spirits.

They are ready for this day to get moving. Rescue workers are rested and already on the mountain. Weather is clear and we have a good forecast for Sunday too. Please continue to pray.

Waiting together. . .

Assault on the Mountain

Today feels something like D-Day. The weather has improved and rescue workers plan to attack the mountain in an all out rescue effort from the ground and from the air. Another storm is expected on Monday, so this Saturday/Sunday window of opportunity is critical. The forest service has issued a restriction on other hikers in the area, "to eliminate any false clues left by others, such as tracks or cell phone signals."

Please pray for success today—in finding Kelly, Brian and Nikko alive, in avoiding any injuries or mishaps to rescue workers—and that all who wait will have patience and will trust in God.

Our hearts are in our throats. Thank you for participating in this ordeal with us. God has blessed us with so many wonderful friends.

We are in God's hands.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Weekend Interviews

Friday, December 15, 2006:

Prime Time America with Greg Wheatley5 p.m. EST Interview with Frank James
Listen Online at

Saturday, December 16, 2006:

Today on NBC8 a.m.
Good Morning America Weekend—8 a.m.
Interviews with Frank James and Jason James (eldest son of Kelly James)

News Conference—12 Noon EST—Frank James, and the three mothers of the climbers

Watch at

Sunday, December 17, 2006:

Nancy Grace on Headline News—8 p.m. EST
The desperate search for three mountain climbers missing in Oregon—will they survive?

Mt. Hood

Having grown up in Portland, Oregon, I've been looking at Mt. Hood and loving her all my life. She is Portland's most famous landmark, and those of us who have lived in her shadow never seem to get over her. "Look at Mt. Hood!" we'll say to each other, when the rain clouds clear and we get a clear view of her—as though we're seeing her for the first time. Most of us manage to ski on her slopes, and that makes us love her all the more. So it's a hard swallow for me that Mt. Hood has turned sinister and my brother-in-law and his two friends are her hostages.

I'm thumbing through Jerry Bridges book, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. He has a chapter on "God's Power Over Nature," which is an interesting read under normal circumstances, but deeply unsettling in the current crisis. The verses Jerry quotes take on new meaning for me now.

"He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast?" (Psalm 147:16-18)

While we wait and Mt. Hood is covered in blizzard conditions and battered by hurricane force winds, it is both comforting and upsetting to know that "snow and clouds, stormy winds . . . do his bidding" (Psalm 148:8).

I can't pretend to be able to explain what God is doing. I won't say these realities don't bother me. But these words remind me that the God who loves us is in the storm, that He calls us to trust Him in situations where we don't understand, we are hurting and we don't know how it will all turn out.

Thank you again for keeping the James family and the families of Brian and Nikko in your prayers. Pray that our faith will remain strong—whether we are waiting at the foot of the mountain or hidden in the snow somewhere up near the summit.


A Week of Hope and Courage

Blackhawk helicopter (above) searching on Tuesday.

I exchanged emails with Steve Rollins, President of Portland Mountain Rescue (above), who was searching on the mountain, Tuesday. He wrote:
"All of the rescuers are skilled mountaineers. Obviously we care about everyone we rescue, but a fellow climber does strike a cord with us. Please know that we all care a great deal and we’re doing everything we possibly can. Let’s all think good thoughts and hope for better weather. Right now Mother Nature is tying our hands a bit, and it is frustrating."

Hood River Crag Rat Bernie Wells (above) and his snow cat (below).

Rescue workers debrief and plan next steps.


Frank James at News Conference (above)

Kelly's wife, Karen, and Frank

Frank & Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler

Nikko's wife, Michaela Cooke

These photos are from The Oregonian, Portland's newspaper.

Friday's News Conference

Before climbing Mt. Hood, the three climbers registered their plans with the Hood River Ranger Station. That note (see photo) was discovered Thursday, adding one more piece to the puzzle for family, rescue workers and reporters. The note revealed that they were well-equipped for their climb and as Frank noted, by registering with the ranger station (something not all climbers do), they had “dotted all their i’s and crossed all their t’s.” Capt. Christopher Bernard of the Air Force Reserve's 304th Rescue Squadron agreed. “I always knew they were squared away. But it just tells me they did the right things.” The note included their list of supplies, including food, fuel, bivvy sacks (sleeping bags), a shovel and ropes, which are all important for survival in the snow cave. This new information is reassuring for all of us, that the men were prepared for the possibilities this climb entailed.

Today’s rescue effort includes the efforts of a C-130 Aircraft from Reno, Nevada—capable of flying at high levels and of scanning the mountains surface in search of the climbers. This aircraft participated in Hurricane Katrina efforts. Rescue teams are ready and waiting to take to the mountain again, as soon as there is an opening.

Capt. Bernard also told reporters than in all of his nineteen years of rescue operations in the Portland area, this was “the largest rescue and the most outpouring of support that I’ve ever seen in my career.” To read more and watch the full press conference:

When I spoke with Frank first thing this morning he told me the power was out in his hotel, due to the storm. There was a power outage in much of Portland, as well. This morning’s network interviews with Karen James, Michaela Cooke and Angela Hall gave him a few more much needed hours of sleep. Interviewees have to rise at 2 a.m. for these east coast morning interviews. He is so grateful for your prayers and encouraged by the many expressions of love and support. Your interest and concern mean so much to all of us.


Friday Morning's Press Conference

The press conference from Friday morning is at:

An Army spokesman discusses the plan for the day, and Frank James speaks briefly.

Friday Morning Shows

Karen James, wife of Kelly, Michaela Cooke, wife of Nikko and Angela Hall, sister of Brian, were on the morning talk shows.

Good Morning America:

Today Show:

Friday morning family update from Carolyn James

I spoke with Frank late last night after he was interviewed by Nancy Grace with Angela Hall, sister of Brian Hall, and also Larry King and Anderson Cooper. He was encouraged by what some of the experts on those programs were saying about survival in a snow cave. Kelly's wife, Karen, Angela Hall and Michaela Cooke were on on all three morning shows today. Frank has a radio interview today with Moody Broadcasting Network on Prime Time America, hosted by Greg Wheatley at 2:00 PST/5:00 EST. Still very stormy on Mt. Hood today. We are still holding out hope and praying for a clearing in the weather today. Thanks for praying.


Kelly with his niece, Allison

Kelly with Allison, daughter of Frank and Carolyn, as he visited in Oxford after climbing the Eiger (13025 ft) in the early 1990's.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nancy Grace - Thursday Night

Nancy Grace, a show on Headline News, is scheduled to cover the latest tonight at 8pm.

Thursday's News Conference

You can watch Thursday morning's press conference at

A representative from the Sheriff's department, Kelly's wife Karen, and Kelly's brother Frank speak.

Carolyn James' Call for Prayer

Carolyn James, wife of Frank James and Kelly's sister-in-law, has posted a plea for prayer on her website, The text of the message is:

This past Sunday, (Dec. 10), Frank and I received one of those dreaded midnight phone calls. Frank’s mom was on the line telling us his brother Kelly and two climbing partners, Brian Hall and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke are lost on Mt. Hood in Oregon.

Frank left Monday for Portland and has been there all week with my sister-in-law, Karen, and Kelly’s four kids, Jason, Ford, Katie and Jack. If you’ve been following the news, you will know that Kelly is in a snow cave near the summit. The three climbers expected to complete their climb of Mt. Hood by Saturday. But something went wrong (we’re not sure exactly what), so they dug a snow cave to keep Kelly safe, while Brian and Jerry went down the mountain for help.

On Sunday, Kelly contacted his wife on his cell phone and received a second call from his son Jason. These calls were brief and didn’t provide much detail. But at least we knew he was alive. T-Mobile and other organizations are using cell phone signals to pinpoint Kelly’s location. There is no news at all about Brian and Nikko. All three men are believers. All three are expert, highly experienced climbers.

The three families are together, supporting each other, praying and waiting. Brian’s parents, Dwight and Clara Hall, his sister, Angela, and Nikko's wife Michaela are also there. Frank's mother, LouAnn Cameron, and his sister, Traci Hale, are en route. As you can imagine this is an unbearably difficult time for all of them.

The weather has been about as bad as possible—blizzard conditions with hurricane force winds—so rescue workers haven’t been able to climb high enough to get to Kelly. If the weather follows the current forecast, there’s no possibility of reaching him until Friday or Saturday, and time is of the essence.

Please join me in praying for all of them—the three climbers, the rescue teams, the technical experts, the worried family members. I ask you to pray especially for Frank as he supports and cares for family members, works with the media, and waits anxiously for his brother’s safe return. He has had interviews with MSNBC, ABC, The Today Show, Nancy Grace, Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, and others. These are extraordinary opportunities to focus attention on rescue efforts for Kelly, Brian and Nikko, but a grueling schedule for Frank.

To stay informed, go to "Local & Regional News" at:

We believe God is in this. It is a painful, heart wrenching ordeal for everyone involved. But He loves us and knows what He is doing with us. He knows exactly where all three men are and He can still the storm. Our hope is in Him.

Thank you for your prayers.