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UPDATED: Two stranded snowboarders located on Mount Rainier

Post by Stacia Glenn / The News Tribune on Nov. 13, 2012 at 9:43 am |
November 13, 2012 4:13 pm

UPDATE as of 4 p.m.: The men were reunited with their families about 3:30 p.m., and are having a “hearty meal” at the National Park Inn, park spokesman Kevin Bacher said.

UPDATE as of 12:33 p.m.: The men were found in the Upper Stevens Creek drainage about 11 a.m. Rescuers were warming them up with hot liquids while assessing the best way to get them off the mountain, park officials said.

“We are relieved to have found Derek and Thomas,” incident commander Stefan Lofgren said. “The health and safety of not only our lost subjects but all of our searchers has been and will continue to be our greatest concern today considering the high avalanche danger and the deep and laborious snow conditions.”

Rescuers used a combination of skis and snowshoes in their search for the men.

UPDATE as of 11:08 a.m.: Searchers have located the two snowboarders but it will be hours before they can make it off the mountain. No sign of major injuries.

INITIAL POST: Searchers are hopeful today they can reach a pair of snowboarders who have spent two nights stranded on Mount Rainier in blizzard-like conditions.

Six teams totaling 30 people set out at 7:45 a.m., heading for the area where they spotted two men believed to be Derek Tyndall, 21, and Thomas Dale, 20, Monday afternoon. They should reach that area of the Paradise Glacier by noon.

“Even on skies and snowshoes, the teams are just wading through snow out there,” park spokesman Kevin Bacher said. “It’s been really tough.”

Four dog teams are on standby. The conditions are not good enough for a helicopter to lift off.

Concerns today include whether Tyndall and Dale stayed put or if they’re on the move. Park officials have not spoken to them since 7 a.m. Monday morning, when they reported they were not injured and had dug a snow cave to stay warm overnight.

A ping on their cell phone showed them to be near 7,500 feet on the mountain, about a half mile to the east of McClure Rock and 300 feet below it. The signal was weak, though.

Searchers spotted two men matching Dale and Tyndall’s descriptions about 3 p.m. Monday and were able to use their arms to signal with them. It appeared the men were OK but the team could not reach them because of terrain and severe conditions that slowed their pace.

When searchers reach that area today, they plan to walk to the bottom of the valley and circle around to reach the stranded snowboarders.

Weather on the mountain appears to be clearing a bit but winds remain high and up to two inches of snow is expected today.

The first night Tyndall and Dale were unable to navigate their way down from Camp Muir, nearly 2 feet of snow fell, winds gusted up to 70 mph and temperatures dropped to 19 degrees.

For the second day in a row, the gate to Paradise from Longmire will remain close so rangers can focus on the rescue.

“To be so close and not quite get there, it was a roller coaster day yesterday in terms of the emotions,” Bacher said.

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