Japanese man may be missing on Mount St. Helens

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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Cowlitz and Skamania sheriff's offices are asking for help in locating a missing Japanese man who may have gone hiking Wednesday on Mount St. Helens.

Yosuke Onishi, 26, of Japan is believed to have set out to hike the mountain from Climber's Bivouac, according to a press release today. No one has heard from or seen Onishi since then. Skamania County Search and Rescue efforts have been unsuccessful finding him on or near the mountain.

Onishi appears to be slim, based on a Nov. 26 photograph taken near Cougar, according to the press release. Officials don't have his exact height or weight.

A Cowlitz County sheriff's deputy interviewed a woman who had hitchhiked with Onishi to Cougar on Nov. 26. She said when they parted ways, Onishi indicated he planned to hitch a ride up to Mount St. Helens.

He borrowed snow shoes from an employee at the Lone Fir Motel and apparently a sleeping bag at the climber's registration desk, according to witnesses. By Thursday, however, the sleeping bag had been taken by an unknown person.

Ronald Jackman, owner of Lakeshore Store and Deli, reported that he saw Onishi enter a grey or light brown passenger car early Wednesday with a man and a woman. The man had dark hair. The woman may have been of Asian descent. They had a small white dog in the car, which may be a poodle. Jackman's wife, Patricia, said the couple returned at about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday and said Onishi "was still up there," according to the press release.

Search and Rescue crews searched extensively along the south side of the mountain but found no signs of Onishi. They checked areas where disoriented hikers are commonly found, without success. Officials said numerous climbers have been up and down the mountain since Wednesday, with no reports of a stranded, injured or ill-equipped climber.

Anyone with information about Onishi's whereabouts or the couple who may have given him a ride are asked to contact authorities at 360-577-3092. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Cowlitz Crime Stoppers at 360-577-1206.