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Snowboarders enjoyed Thanksgiving after rescue from Rainier
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. 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 drinking water.
But they said all they needed to survive was each other and a positive attitude.
"It was just a matter of that willpower 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 2 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.
"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.