4 cell tower workers stranded on mountain

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Four cellphone tower workers stranded by a storm on Steens Mountain in southeast Oregon are headed for a third night there, holed up in a concrete block building at about 9,000 feet, authorities said.

The workers are reported warm and safe in the structure at the base of the tower they've been working on, with a propane-fired generator, cellphones and chargers, and water and food for a day or two.

"Their lives are not in danger," said Sheriff Dave Glerup of Harney County, a 10,000-square-mile expanse where the population is about three-quarters of a person per square mile and the 30-mile-long mountain rises a mile above the surrounding high desert.

The four tried to leave the mountain in poor visibility Saturday, Glerup said. They got off the road and got stuck, spent the night in their snow vehicle and got back to the concrete structure the next day, he said.

A search and rescue team was turned back Sunday in white-out conditions. The weather through mid-day Monday was too poor to risk another attempt by the county's rescuers or to get a National Guard helicopter from Salem, Glerup said.

Weather forecasters expect a break Tuesday, he said.

The road to the top of the mountain, whose summit is about 9,700 feet, is narrow and twisty, and it crosses steep terrain cut by ravines.

In a storm, with wind speeds of up to 70 mph, Glerup said, "it's just too treacherous."

Their employer, James Kramer of Legacy Wireless Services of Clackamas, said he's been in touch with the crew, as have relatives.

"They're in good spirits," he said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.