A 27-year-old backcountry skier survived a night alone on Mount Owen, the second-highest peak in the Tetons, by digging a snowcave as whiteout conditions left him stranded. After originally setting out to ski one of Disappointment Peak’s couloirs, the man climbed through Koven Couloir and decided to continue on the Cathedral Traverse.
The man became trapped in whiteout conditions on top of the East Prong, unable to find his way and unable to descend the mountain. He called into the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center around 7:30 p.m. to report that he was stuck.
“Park dispatch put the man in touch with a Jenny Lake climbing ranger to discuss his situation and plan accordingly. The man told the ranger he had dug a snow cave on top of the East Prong and would stay in it overnight. He planned to wake up the next morning and make his way down once visibility improved.” – National Park Service
Over a foot of snow overnight continued to make conditions even more hazardous, but the man was able to text the park rangers at around 6:30 a.m. to inform them that he was awake and alright. At 7 a.m., the man called park rangers and informed them that he would be unable to make his way out of the mountains.
“At approximately 10:30 a.m. park rangers and TCSAR jointly responded in the TCSAR helicopter to rescue the man. Rangers and TCSAR short-hauled the man out of the backcountry to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache. The man was uninjured and able to self-transport.” – National Park Service
Rangers and the National Park Service wish to remind everyone to have and know a way to reverse any ascent. While it wouldn’t have necessarily changed much in this case, it’s also important to remember to never travel alone in the backcountry, and to understand the reality and dangers of what exists beyond the ropes.
Image Credit: Grand Teton National Park