Bad weather temporarily halts search for body of climber

AP News
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Posted: Nov 30, 2015 6:28 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Efforts to recover the body of a climber who died after falling into a crevasse were temporarily halted Monday because of severe weather on Mount Jefferson in Oregon, authorities said.

Searchers were descending to a lower elevation to be airlifted off of the mountain by helicopter. They planned to reassess on Tuesday whether the body of Tommy Fountain can be safely recovered.

Fountain, 32, fell Sunday while climbing with his wife at an elevation of 8,800 feet. She spent the night on the mountain, texting with rescuers who found her in good condition.

Searchers could not reach the couple until Monday because of the difficult terrain, said Lt. Chris Baldridge of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

"We do not know when he died," Baldridge said. "All we knew is that he had fallen and was injured."

Fountain's wife, 29-year-old Alison Fountain, did not fall. Crews helped her off the mountain, and she was met by relatives.

At nearly 10,500 feet, Mount Jefferson is the second-highest peak in Oregon, behind Mount Hood. Part of the Cascade Range, it is northwest of Bend and in a wilderness destination popular among climbers, campers, hikers, anglers and cyclists.

The couple's vehicle was found Sunday on a trailhead in Marion County. Five climbers from Corvallis Mountain Rescue were dropped off overnight about 2,000 feet below the site where Fountain fell. Additional rescuers joined them before dawn.

Alison Fountain's Facebook page indicates she works as a flight nurse in Corvallis and also has experience as an emergency room nurse. Photos on Tommy Fountain's Facebook page show he was an avid climber.

The sheriff's office did not immediately identify a hometown for the couple, but public records list their most recent address in McMinnville — 40 miles southwest of Portland.