Rescuers were hindered by severe conditions on their way to help an injured climber at 12,300 feet on Mount Rainier.

SEATTLE (AP) – An injured climber stranded with his companion on a steep slope near Mount Rainier summit prepared for a second night on the mountain as temperatures dipped below zero Sunday evening.

Two rescue climbers were expected to reach the stranded men Monday morning to assess the situation, said Patti Wold, a spokeswoman for Mount Rainier National Park. Deep snow and whiteout conditions delayed the rescuers who began their ascent Saturday. They had scaled 9,000 feet by early Sunday evening, she said.

Peter Cooley, 39, had been showing signs of a severe head injury, and Wold said his condition was the same. He slipped and fell early Saturday morning on Liberty Ridge at the 12,300-foot level of the 14,410-foot mountain.

“He’s in and out of consciousness, not coherent, agitated. He’s not in good mental condition,” spokeswoman Lee Taylor said earlier Sunday. She said the injury is life-threatening and he needs to reach a hospital as soon as possible.

His climbing partner, Scott Richards, 42, set up a tent and boiled water, Taylor said. The pair, both from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, had enough supplies to get them through the night as they awaited a rescue effort expected to take several days.

“There couldn’t be a worse place on the mountain to try to do a rescue, it’s very extreme terrain,” Taylor said.

The two men are stranded on a 45-degree slope with steep and rocky terrain above and below them, Taylor said.

Five climbing rangers who headed up Mount Rainier on Sunday were near the 8,000-foot level and would prepare to establish a camp on the Carbon Glacier below Liberty Ridge, Wold said. A second team of five climbers was not far behind them.

The first two rangers had been climbing slowly in cloudy conditions after being stopped at 1 a.m. Sunday by whiteout conditions, Taylor said. They planned to figure out how to safely bring down the men, she said.

Poor weather also prevented an attempt to rescue the stranded men using a helicopter from the Oregon Air National Guard. It was sent to wait back in Yakima, east of the mountain, Wold said.

Richards was described as an experienced climber who has scaled the summit before.

The two men were in contact intermittently with rescuers by cell phone.

Mount Rainier, about 60 miles southeast of Seattle in the Cascade range, is a popular destination for hikers and mountaineers.



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