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Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 12:16 AM

Snowboarders credit willpower after they're rescued at Rainier

By Craig Welch
Seattle Times environment reporter

A pair of snowboarders who spent two nights on Mount Rainier after getting trapped in a blizzard Sunday hiked off the volcano in snowshoes Tuesday — hungry, cold but uninjured.

Derek Tyndall 21, and Thomas Dale, 20, made it down to Paradise about 3:30 p.m.

"I think they are on their way to the National Park Inn to order the biggest meal of their lives," Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher said Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the men were reunited with their families.

The two snowboarders — Tyndall, of Sumner, and Dale, of Indiana — were carving turns below Camp Muir Sunday afternoon when a heavy storm forced them to halt their descent. They did not have overnight gear or extra food, save a few crackers, but immediately began preparing to hunker down for the night.

"They are extraordinarily fortunate," Bacher said. "This is a case where something went wrong, but from that point on they did everything right. They didn't compound the situation by making poor decisions."

The first night, the two boarders called 911 and found a snow cave near a freshwater spring not far from the southern end of the Paradise Glacier. They used their snowboards to block its entrance and keep 70 mph winds at bay through the night.

On Monday, rescuers thought the men might have wandered from their initial location to keep warm. Searchers had tracked the pair as best they could by triangulating the ping off a cell tower from their emergency call.

Hampered by snow that was at times chest high, the rescuers didn't spot the boarders until right at sunset Monday, a half-mile across a ravine. But then darkness descended and intermittent clouds returned and searchers lost sight of the boarders again.

The two managed to sit tight for a second night.

"It was just a matter of that willpower and wanting to survive, finding that thing to look forward to really kept me going," Dale told KING 5.

"The first night we were pretty good because we were in the crevasse-cave thing," Tyndall said. "The second night was a little bit more difficult."

The boarders built a new snow cave, nibbled on their remaining Ritz crackers and waited.

The rescuers reached them around midmorning Tuesday and gave them warm liquids and dry clothing, said park spokeswoman Lee Snook.

Rescuers also gave the men extra snowshoes, and the two walked out under their own power.

Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or cwelch@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @craigawelch. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


KING 5 NEWS
Thomas Dale, left, and Derek Tyndall spent two nights on Mount Rainier after a blizzard blocked them.




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