A pair of climbers missing in treacherous weather on Mount Hood reported by cell phone Tuesday that they were on their way off the mountain after getting lost and spending the night in a snow cave.

The men, described as experienced climbers, had been due off the mountain Monday afternoon.

One of the men called his girlfriend Tuesday to let her know they had dug into the snow for shelter when conditions became so bad they could not continue, said Detective Jim Strovink of the Clackamas County sheriff's office.

Although they had been expected to be somewhere above Timberline Lodge, where they parked their car, they turned out to be at an elevation of only about 3,800 feet, near a tree line on the 11,239-foot mountain, Strovink said. That put them about 2,000 feet below the resort lodge.

"It sounds like they're in good shape," Strovink said.

He said 18 rescuers were on their way to meet the climbers.

Searchers had included representatives of Portland Mountain Rescue, Mountain Wave, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, American Medical Response and the Portland-based 304th U.S. Air Force Rescue Squadron.

More than 35 climbers have died on Mount Hood in the past 25 years.