Authorities working to rescue 4 Mount Rainier climbers

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MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. (AP) — A rescue effort is underway for climbers who have been stranded on the north side of Mount Rainier in Washington state since Monday.

The park received a report Monday afternoon that the climbers needed help because wind blew away or destroyed their tent and climbing equipment, Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher said.

The climbers, who began their ascent on Friday, include Yevgeniy Krasnitskiy of Portland, Oregon; Vasily Aushev and Kostya "Constantine" Toporov of New York City; and Ruslan Khasbulatov of Jersey City, New Jersey. At least two of them have been described by family as experienced climbers, Bacher said.

A park helicopter crew found the climbers Monday on the Liberty Ridge route at 13,500 feet (4,115 meters). But high winds thwarted rescue attempts.

On Tuesday, after another failed helicopter rescue attempt, park officials requested a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter and crew. Although the helicopter and crew arrived Tuesday, they have been unable so far to make a rescue because of high winds, rain and cloud cover, Bacher said.

Park officials issued an emergency closure of the Liberty Ridge route Wednesday afternoon with more unstable weather expected in the next several days.

About two dozen rangers from Mount Rainier National Park have participated in the rescue each day in addition to resources from the military, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and the Washington State Search and Rescue Planning Unit.

Crews are planning possible rescues by air and on the ground as conditions allow, Bacher said.

The Liberty Ridge route is described by park officials as one of the more technical and dangerous routes on Mount Rainier. One person died and two other climbers were injured in a rock fall in that area last week.

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