Four climbers who were stranded near the peak of Mount Rainier in Washington state since Monday were finally rescued by a helicopter crew Thursday, bringing an end to a tortuous ordeal involving cold weather and destroyed equipment.
Poor visibility and strong winds interfered with previous rescue attempts, but a break in the weather allowed the park’s helicopter to rescue the group on Thursday morning.
The climbers were spotted “in the saddle between Liberty Cap and Columbia Crest,” according to a National Park Service news release sent to Fox News.
All four are alive but suffered from exposure to the cold and were flown to local hospitals, according to the National Park Service.
The climbers, who had started their ascent last Friday, were identified as Yevgeniy Krasnitskiy of Portland, Ore.; Vasily Aushev and Kostya “Constantine” Toporov of New York City; and Ruslan Khasbulatov, of Jersey City, N.J.
Mount Rainier’s Communications Center received a 911 call on Monday afternoon that the group needed help because wind blew away or destroyed their tent and climbing equipment.
"The park attempted to retrieve the climbers using the park’s helicopter on Monday evening and twice on Tuesday, June 4, but were turned back by sustained 50 mph winds,” the release said.
The National Park Service got help from a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter along with an Air Force pararescue team, but even they couldn’t rescue the climbers because “clouds and wind turned back their two rescue attempts.”
A park helicopter crew spotted the climbers Monday on the dangerous Liberty Ridge route at an elevation of 13,500 feet.
This was the same area where a climber was killed and five others had to be rescued by helicopter last week. That group had been hit by a rockfall along a treacherous path that carried the “reputation of being the hardest and most-dangerous” route on the mountain, according to the National Park Service.
Six climbers died in the same location 5 years before. Climbers from that group, which included a vice president of technology company Intel, were reported to have fallen around 3,200 feet.
Fox News’ Greg Norman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.