Rangers find one climber, the other still on Mount Shasta

Updated 5:32 p.m. One of two climbers stranded on Mount Shasta over the weekend has made it off the mountain. He told authorities that his climbing companion was unresponsive in a snow cave near the summit.

U.S. Forest Service rangers found Mark Thomas, 26, of Berkeley, Calif., at about 4 p.m. walking toward a base camp searchers set up on Military Pass Road, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office reported.

He was in good condition with some frostbite, but declined medical help.

Teams will work with him to pinpoint the location where he left his climbing companion, Thomas Bennett, 26, of Oakland, Calif., who suffered severe altitude sickness and had lost consciousness and become unresponsive.

Thomas called 9-1-1 Sunday morning to report that he and Bennett had spent the night stranded in the shelter of some rocks at an elevation of about 14,050 feet, near the summit. Bennett was disoriented and ill with altitude sickness.

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.

This afternoon, Thomas called authorities again to report he was making his way down the mountain, the sheriff's office news release said.

A wind advisory remains in effect on the mountain until 9 p.m. It warns of 35 mph winds with gusts to 55 mph, but winds are expected to diminish overnight.

Searchers plan to re-evaluate weather conditions in the morning to determine when a recovery mission can be sent up the mountain.

— Anita Burke

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