DARRINGTON — The search for three teenagers on Three Fingers mountain is continuing this morning as officials fear the boys may be succumbing to the weather.
Still, reached by phone early this morning, the boys told emergency dispatchers they were doing OK, officials said.
During limited cell phone communication with the boys, one 16, the others 17, their speech sounded slurred, one sign they could be suffering from hypothermia, Snohomish County sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said. Two of the boys are from Arlington, the third is from elsewhere in Snohomish County.
Search and rescue crews hurried Tuesday night to reach the teenage hikers. The boys called for help about 8:30 p.m. when they found themselves unprepared for difficult weather conditions, sheriff’s Lt. Dallas Swank said.
The teens brought a sleeping bag, some blankets, a light and a whistle, among other gear, but weren’t prepared for ice, snow and rain that fell during the night, Hover said. The boys planned to spend the night in the lookout shelter at 6,870 feet.
The boys are believed to be together, Hover said.
Around 20 people in four teams are on the mountain looking for the teens, who are believed to be at about 5,500 feet, she said. Teams were rushing to bring the boys additional emergency gear.
Poor weather conditions prevent the use of a rescue helicopter and mountain rescue volunteers are preparing to carry the boys out on the trail.
“That could be a long haul,” Hover said.
The boy’s parents are with rescuers at the trail head.
The trail to the top of Three Fingers is about 8 miles long and crosses snow fields and glaciers requiring the use of crampons and ice axes. It’s not known if the boys had the safety equipment.
Rain showers are forecast to continue through the morning in the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. High temperatures are expected to reach around 50.