Snowboarder Found Alive After Spending 2-Nights Lost in Oregon Backcountry

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Oregon, snowboarder, found alive
Eli Kepsel, 27, was cold but in good spirits. Credit: Facebook

A man who spent two nights in the freezing cold and wet on Mt. Ashland, Oregon after getting lost while snowboarding was lucky to be found alive Tuesday morning, reports KDRV.comJackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) search and rescue (SAR) officials say 27-year-old snowboarder Eli Kepsel was “cold but in good spirits” when rescuers found him just before 10:30 am on Tuesday.

“This is the best outcome we could have hoped for,” said JCSO Sergeant Shawn Richards.

Oregon, snowboarder, found alive
Eli spent 2 nights in the Oregon wilderness. Credit: Facebook

Authorities say that a SAR team from Klamath County was patrolling US Forest Service Road 2060 north of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area when Kepsel suddenly appeared from the hillside above the road. He was given food and water before being taken to a waiting ambulance from Ashland Fire & Rescue and reunited with his parents. Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center now describes Kepsel as being in “fair” condition.

“Kepsel was cold and hungry, but he was able to walk and talk to rescuers,” JCSO said in a statement.

Kepsel’s mother reported him missing to JCSO on Monday, December 10, when he didn’t return from a snowboarding trip the day before. Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol members checked the ski area parking lot and found his vehicle was still parked there. The last confirmed sighting of Kepsel was Sunday afternoon at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area.

Search teams located some tracks in the snow beyond the boundary of the ski area, but it was not immediately known whether it was Kepsel who had made those tracks.

“One particular set of tracks in the snow provided searchers with Kepsel’s likely direction of travel. But as the tracks descended in elevation, a lack of snow made them more difficult to follow,” JCSO said.

Oregon, snowboarder, found alive
Reunited with his parents. Credit: Facebook

Kepsel later told rescuers that he heard sounds made by searchers, “including sirens and a helicopter,” but he was disoriented and he was not able to reply. Kepsel was not adequately prepared to spend the night in the backcountry, but he sheltered beneath the tree canopy each night.

“There is no cell phone service on the back side of Mount Ashland, which limits the use of technology to locate people who go missing there,” JCSO said.

JCSO said that Brim Aviation also provided air support on both days, searching by helicopter despite “less than favorable” weather conditions.

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