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Snowboarders survive two nights stranded on Mt. Rainier

November 13, 2012|By Joseph Serna
  • Two snowboarders were reportedly in good health after being rescued following two nights on Mt. Rainier.
Two snowboarders were reportedly in good health after being rescued following… (Elaine Thompson / Associated…)

Two snowboarders stranded in Washington’s Mt. Rainier National Park for two nights were rescued Tuesday morning and were expected to be reunited with their families by the afternoon.

The families of Derek Tyndall, 21, and Thomas Dale, 20, were “ecstatic” when they got word the duo had been found and were in good health, said park spokesman Kevin Bacher.

“Obviously they understand what a grave situation this was, and the chance that it might not come out positive,” he said. “The longer it went, the greater that chance was. They’ve been very positive through the whole thing. They’ve had a lot of confidence in the abilities of their kids.”

Shortly after 11 a.m., rangers found the two camped on the lower part of Paradise Glacier at an altitude of about 6,700 feet.

They were cold and hungry, but otherwise fine, Bacher said. The two were expected to make it back to the Paradise ranger station after hiking a few miles through the snow with their rescuers.

“We have a very fortunate couple of kids here that we’re bringing out,” Bacher said. “I hope they know how lucky they are.”

The two were at about 10,000 feet Sunday evening when they were overwhelmed by one of the first big snowstorms of the season. At that elevation, the two had to survive 2 to 4 feet of snow and 70 mph winds. They were wearing snowboarding gear but didn’t have any overnight supplies.

Tyndall and Dale had begun descending Camp Muir when the storm hit. Even though the storm was forecast, the mountain’s topography put their backs to a high western ridge, blocking their view of the coming storm.

Rangers conduct more search and rescues and see more fatalities on that range than anywhere else in the park, Bacher said.

“All of a sudden in the course of 10 minutes, you’re in the course of a blizzard and that’s what happened to these guys,” he said.

The snow was soft and chest high, making for a long, hard slog to get anywhere. Tyndall and Dale gave up for the night, called 911 and said they were going to dig a snow cave and try again the next day.

The pair made more progress Monday, but conditions were still tough, Bacher said. Rangers spotted them Monday but couldn’t reach them before nightfall.

“I’m looking forward to hearing their story,” Bacher said, laughing. “We’re just glad it had a positive outcome.”

 Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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