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Rescuers reached two snowboarders Tuesday morning who have been stranded since Sunday on Mount Rainier.

The men, Derek Tyndall, 21, and Thomas Dale, 20, are being evaluated, but officials say the men are able to walk. They were not expected to start making their way down the mountain until Tuesday afternoon.

Fresh snow was so deep on Mount Rainier that rescuers had to swim through it to make progress, a national park spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The snow hasn't packed in yet, so the 30 rescuers, working in five-member teams, were pushing to break a trail through treacherous terrain and powder that is chest deep in some places. The work was exhausting and slow, forcing each team member to take turns leading the way, said Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Lee Snook.

Tyndall and Dale were lost Sunday. 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. Snook couldn't confirm whether they were in voice contact.

The men are dressed for snowboarding and have a compass, but they carried no overnight gear and little food and water, Snook said.

They descended from Camp Muir and were last seen at about the 7,000-foot level below McClure Rock. They were apparently headed toward the Paradise ranger station, which is at the 5,400-foot level. They may be only a few miles from the ranger station, Snook said, but it's not a straight shot.


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