High winds hamper rescue of four hikers stranded for days on Mount Rainier

Hikers seen stranded at 13,500 feet

By Joe Sutton, CNN
KIRO/Cox/CNN

Mount Rainier

(CNN) - Dozens of rangers in Washington state are working to rescue four hikers who've been stranded on Mount Rainier since Monday.

The four hikers encountered difficulties during their trek due to high winds, the National Park Service said. They began their ascent from White River Campground on Friday, but the blustery conditions destroyed their tents and other climbing equipment, authorities said.

Officials identified the men as Yevgeniy Krasnitskiy of Portland, Oregon; Ruslan Khasbulatov of Jersey City, New Jersey; Vasily Aushev of New York; and Kostya "Constantine" Toporov of New York.

A park helicopter found the four men signaling for help at 13,500 feet, below Liberty Cap on the north side of the mountain. Strong winds impeded the rescue efforts and the dropping of supplies, the park service said.

On Tuesday, efforts were made to rescue the climbers but the windy conditions prevented crews from getting to them. Multiple efforts were made but winds had picked up and the visibility was poor, authorities said. About 25 rangers from Mount Rainier National Park have worked daily to try and remove the men from the summit.

Weather conditions, including clouds and rain, prevented attempts to reach the men by air Wednesday. "Rangers are now preparing multiple rescue contingencies involving both air and ground operations as conditions permit. Unstable weather forecast for the next several days is expected to continue to limit air operations," the park said.

Officials made the decision to close Liberty Ridge to keep the public and rescuers safe until the rescue mission is complete.

"Liberty Ridge route is one of the more technical and dangerous routes on Mount Rainier and was the same route where a climbing party was hit by rock fall resulting in one death and two injured climbers last week," the park said.

Mount Rainier is about 85 miles southeast of Seattle.

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