One climber heads down Shasta; second still ill at 14,000 feet

One of two climbers stranded on Mount Shasta has called authorities to report that he is coming down the mountain, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department said.

Rangers on snowmobiles are heading out to meet Mark Thomas, 26, of Berkeley, Calif., a sheriff's department news release said this afternoon.

Thomas, who is reportedly an experienced climber who has scaled Mount Shasta before, called for help Sunday morning. He said his climbing partner, Thomas Bennett, a 26-year-old Oakland, Calif., resident formerly of Vancouver, British Columbia, had become disoriented and ill with altitude sickness near the summit of Mount Shasta, sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said in a release this morning.

The two spent Saturday night huddled in the shelter of rocks at an elevation of about 14,050 feet. High winds made it impossible for them to descend and for rescuers to climb or fly to them, officials said. Searchers found Bennett's car Sunday evening after a second call from Thomas.

Rangers went to the mountain to survey conditions this morning, and they plan to meet Thomas, who reported this afternoon that he decided to come down the mountain alone today. He told officials that he was in the tree line at an elevation of about 7,000 feet when he called in this afternoon. He has a map and a compass with him.

— Anita Burke

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