Two snowboarders stranded on Mount Rainier are safe and warm after spending two nights in freezing conditions on the mountain.
After a two-day rescue effort involving 30 personnel from multiple agencies, rescuers reached Derek Tyndall, 21, and Thomas "Goober" Dale, 20, early Tuesday morning. By afternoon, the two made their way down the mountain, where happy family members and friends were waiting.
Recounting how they survived the two nights, the snowboarders said they had found a snow cave the first night, dug themselves one the second night and for food they shared a small bag of Ritz crackers and found a stream for some drinking water. But they said all they needed to survive was each other and a positive attitude.
"It was just a matter of that will power and wanting to survive, finding that thing to look forward to really kept me going," said Dale.
"The first night we were pretty good because we were in the crevasse/cave thing," said Tyndall. "We had our snowboards blocking the northeast wind. The second night was a little bit more difficult."
Day two of the search started early in the morning. Park officials said the fresh snow was so deep on Mount Rainier that rescuers had to "swim" through it to make progress. The 30 rescuers, working in five-member teams, pushed to break a trail through treacherous terrain and powder that was chest deep in some places. The work was exhausting and slow, forcing each team member to take turns leading the way.
The snow eventually let up, allowing rescuers better visibility. By 11 a.m., rescuers reached the two near the 7,500-foot level.
"I knew they were going to make it, it was just when," said Roger Tyndall, Derek Tyndall's father.
"I'm just going to say, 'Goober, I knew you would do it. I'm proud of you," said Kim Dale, Thomas Dale's mother.
Tyndall and Dale set out for a day trip of snowboarding Sunday, but got lost during a snow storm. They were descending from a camp about 10,000 feet up the mountain when the storm hit, dropping 2 to 4 feet of snow. They used a cellphone to call 911 and said they were digging a snow cave for protection.
They weren't equipped to stay overnight, however they checked in Monday morning before their cellphone died, saying they were cold but OK.
Rescue teams spotted Tyndall and Dale late Monday. They were within a half-mile and able to wave at each other, but darkness and dangerous conditions, which include the risk of avalanche, forced them back.
The men were dressed for snowboarding and have a compass, but they carried no overnight gear and little food and water, Snook said.
"The scariest moment I thought was waking up the next morning and be like, 'We're soaking wet. This is not good,'" said Dale.
But the boyhood friends helped each other survive because they kept each other laughing while doing what they could to stay warm.
"There was a little bit of spooning. I'm not going to lie," laughed Dale.
"What happens in the cave stays in the cave," said Tyndall.