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Weather Hampers Search for Missing Mt. Rainier Hikers

Purestock/Getty Images(SEATTLE) –- An unprecedented winter storm that is hammering the Pacific Northwest coast with freezing rain and heavy snow has hampered the search for four hikers missing from Washington’s Mount Rainier Park.

Mark Vucich, 37, of San Diego, and Michelle Trojanowski, 30, of Atlanta, were supposed to return Sunday from a camping trip on the Muir Snowfield, about 10,000 feet up, but have not been heard from in days. The pair’s car was found in a parking lot about halfway up the mountain, according to Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold.

Mount Rainier is about 70 miles southeast of Seattle, which was battered by snow and ice on Wednesday.  Mount Rainier was hit with snow over the weekend as temperatures continued to hover well below freezing.

A team of 10 Park Service staff set out today to travel the same route Vucich and Trojanowski would have taken, Wold said.

On Tuesday, the team was only able to conduct a limited search after conditions of zero visibility and 100 mph winds hampered their efforts.

Meanwhile, two other climbers, an unidentified couple from Springfield, Ore., also remain missing after failing to return Monday from a summit attempt on the Disappointment Cleaver route.

Park officials believe both pairs of climbers chose to ride out the storm and wait for conditions to clear before returning.  All four are thought to be well-equipped with tents, sleeping bags and other cold weather gear.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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