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Frozen Bodies Id’d As Oregon Hikers

October 11, 2001

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) _ A hiker chipping away at a rope lodged in ice discovered the mummified bodies of two Oregon men who froze to death in a glacier on Mount Adams 21 years ago.

The remains of Gary Claeys, 28, and Matt Larson, 25, were identified Wednesday, Yakima County Coroner Maurice Rice said. Both men died of hypothermia. Rice said the bodies, found Saturday, were essentially mummified, preserved by the ice.

``They were huddled together. There was no trauma, no signs of injuries,″ Rice said.

Rescue workers and police retrieved the bodies Tuesday; one was covered with a blanket, another with a tarp. Larson’s body was found with his billfold, including a driver’s license and credit cards.

``We always wondered what happened. How did they die?″ said David Claeys of Parsippany, N.J., who had searched the south-central Washington mountain four times for his brother.

Larson and Claeys, who worked as hospital psychiatric aides, disappeared Nov. 14, 1980, while hiking on the 12,276-foot mountain in the Cascade Range.

Mark Bales, a mission coordinator for Central Washington Mountain Rescue, was part of the original search team and part of the recovery team this week.

``They were caught in a pretty horrendous storm,″ Bales said.

This year’s drought, the worst in 70 years, exposed expanses of Mount Adams that had been covered with snow for two decades.

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