Derek Tyndall and Thomas Dale weren’t shy about how they survived two very cold nights on Mt. Rainier.
“There was a little bit of spooning,” Dale told reporters on Tuesday evening, hours after rescue teams were able to locate the men and transport them to safety. “I’m not going to lie.”
“What happens in the cave, stays in the cave,” Tyndall added.
Trouble began for the two snowboarders on Sunday afternoon as they rode near Camp Muir, a climbers’ refuge situated between the Nisqually and Paradise glaciers on Mt. Rainier’s southeastern face. As they descended the mountain, a heavy storm quickly moved in and bombarded them with four feet of snow. Equipped with a shovel, the two men began digging a snow cave. They also used a cell phone to dial 911 and report their predicament.
Though Dale and Tyndall were dressed in warm clothing, they were not prepared for an overnight stay. The two men shared a small bag of Ritz crackers and located a nearby stream for drinking water. “It was just a matter of that will power and wanting to survive, finding that thing to look forward to really kept me going,” Dale told KING-5 News.
Rescuers first spotted the men on Monday morning, but low visibility and high avalanche danger prevented any attempts to contact them. “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.”
At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, a 30-person rescue team reached the stranded men after wading through chest-deep powder. Dale and Tyndall were given warm liquids and physically assessed by rescuers before beginning their 7,500-foot descent. Neither man displayed any symptoms of frostbite or physical injury, and both were able to hike down without assistance.
This miraculous rescue could have easily taken a tragic turn. In January, four people perished on Mt. Rainier after they were engulfed by a heavy snowstorm; three bodies were discovered in the spring after the snow melted, while the fourth has yet to be found. In June, Mt. Rainier N.P. climbing ranger Nick Hall died after he fell more than 3,500 feet during an attempt to rescue a party stranded on Mt. Rainier’s northeastern face.
“This is what happens on Mount Rainier,” Mt. Rainier spokeswoman Lee Snook told the Associated Press. “This is why people use Mount Rainier to train for Mount Everest.”
By Brad Nehring