COOPER SPUR, Ore. – One of three stranded climbers lost somewhere amid ice, billowing snow and gale-force winds on Mount Hood has been turning off and on his cell phone, authorities said Thursday, raising hopes for his rescue.
The sequence of signals suggested James, 48, of Dallas, may have been turning his cell phone off to conserve battery power, a possibility that brought hope to family members who have gathered near the mountain.
"My heart was in my throat when I heard that, because if it's true it means Kelly is alive, and he has his wits about him," his brother, Frank James of Orlando, Fla., said at a news conference.
T-Mobile also reported that the cell phone initiated a call Monday morning.
The Hood River County Sheriff's Office said T-Mobile continued to signal, or "ping," the cell phone Wednesday, but the last signal received was Tuesday night.
Rescue workers confronted stormy weather on the mountain again Thursday and said they would be searching lower elevations in hopes that James' two companions, Brian Hall of Dallas and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke, of New York, had gotten down from near the top of the mountain, where James was believed holed up in a snow cave.
The three set out a week ago for a two-day climb to the summit.
James' wife, Karen, said the families of the three men remained confident.
"These are three of the most phenomenal men you could ever meet. They're smart, they are strong, and they care so deeply for one another," she said.
"My husband proposed to me on Mount Rainier, and we're planning our wedding anniversary there, so I know he is coming off this mountain."