COOPER SPUR, Ore. – Fresh search crews joined Tuesday's effort to find three experienced climbers believed to have spent at least two nights on Mount Hood in the middle of a blizzard.
Several inches of snow and gusty winds were in the forecast Tuesday after blizzard conditions slowed rescue efforts the day before.
"We just need a break in the weather in order to get up on the mountain and get them out of there," Deputy Pete Hughes of the Hood River County Sheriff’s Department told FOX News.
He said two military crews with helicopters were on standby and would join the search as soon as weather permitted.
The three missing climbers apparently attempted a quick climb to the 11,239-foot summit while carrying little survival gear, a searcher said. They were supposed to meet friends on Friday or Saturday at a lodge but never made it.
A cell-phone call between climber Kelley James, 48, and his son on Sunday was the only contact with the men, authorities said. James then said he was in a snow cave on the side of the mountain.
James, of Dallas, Texas, had told his son that his companions — Brian Hall, 37, also of Dallas, and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke, 36, of New York City — had gone for help.
Rescuers were unable to re-establish contact by phone.
Being in a snow cave and waiting for the bad weather to subside is the best bet for survival, Eric Weiss of Stanford University told FOXNews.com.
"One can construct a snow shelter if they have a shovel. Once they’re inside, if they have the ability to melt snow and consume water, they can survive for three days,” Weiss said.
"I think there’s still a good chance if they were able to get shelter and get out of the weather," Hughes added. "That is their main factor as far as staying alive. Food is not that big of a deal; they can drink water by melting snow. Weather is really the main factor."
All three men were described as experienced climbers.
The "light and fast" strategy they were using can help climbers lessen their risks by reducing the time they spend on the mountain, but "if something goes wrong, you don't have a lot of gear to fall back on," said Steve Rollins, a search leader with Portland Mountain Rescue.
Most climbers take on Mount Hood in May and June, and a climb this time of year is unusual, Rollins said.
Rescue teams making their way through blowing snow Monday had their visibility reduced so much that at times they could not see their own feet.
"We're dealing with gusts of 85 miles an hour that were knocking us back," said Tom Scully of the Hood River mountain rescue unit.
Despite the conditions, the search continued after dark.
"We had people in snowmobiles at lower land levels during the night; We never ended the search," said Hughes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.