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Snowboarder lost overnight near Mount Bachelor, rescued by SAR

"EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Rescued Snowboarder"
UPDATE 4/9/09 - 6:15 PM
by Matt McDonald KOHD TV

Lost overnight in the snowy wilderness about five miles northwest of mount bachelor, Matthew Euteneier clung to his cell phone talking with search and rescue, they thought they had found his tracks.

"He said there would be some searchers there really quick, and there wasn't anybody for an hour, then two hours," said Matt.

That's when Matt got scared. The next call from search and rescue, he missed. And that's when they got worried.

"About three o'clock this morning, we made the decision that we weren't sure we were going to be able to find him and we needed to bring in another team," said Sergeant Scott Shelton, a Search and Rescue Commander with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.

On the ground, volunteers on snowmobiles, snowshoes and cross country skis were looking for Matt. An attempt to locate his phone with GPS failed. An Airlink helicopter with night vision turned back in bad weather. At home, Abby Edwards, his girlfriend, 20 weeks pregnant was waiting in agony.

"At first I heard they were within an hour of him, and so I thought, OK, I can finally rest because they are closer, then the next phone call was not as positive," said Abby.

Wednesday morning, Euteneier had parked at Mount Bachelor, heading on foot towards Todd Lake for some back country snowboarding and to celebrate his 30th birthday. But a storm created near white out conditions. He got wet after crossing Fall Creek. At 7:30 PM Wednesday night, Abby called for help.

"I just kept thinking, what would it be like to have that baby without Matt," said Abby.

It's a question, Abby will not have to answer. At 5:30 in the morning, rescuers found Matt. A few minutes later, he checked his phone one last time, finding a text message from Abby.

"It says, 'They found you love. I'll holding you so soon and never letting go. We've been up all night, praying for you. GPS for your birthday love. You are my everything.' And then my phone died," said Matt.

04/09/09 Bend
At approximately 7:38, Wednesday evening, Deschutes County 911 received a call requesting assistance to locate a lost snowboarder who was in the area of Todd Lake. The initial request came from a family member who had spoken to 30 year old Mathew Euteneier of Bend.

Deputies from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office made contact by telephone with Mr. Euteneier. Based upon the information received from Mr. Euteneier, Search and Rescue was contacted and activated.

At approximately 8:30 PM, phone contact was made between Mr. Euteneier and Search and Rescue staff. During the conversation Mr. Euteneier indicated that he had left earlier in the day for a snowboarding/hiking trip. He had become disoriented and was attempting to find his way back to a trailhead or roadway for approximately 6 hours. Mr. Euteneier attempted to provide as much detail as possible about his location and was advised to remain in one place. With the assistance of the cell phone company, an attempt to locate Mr. Euteneier was made utilizing a GPS feature in his cell phone. However, the information that was provided by the cell company was inaccurate due to dated technology in the phone.

At approximately 9:30 PM, Search and Rescue personnel and one member of the USFS were sent to the area of Todd Lake cut off and the Cascade Lakes Highway. Search and Rescue teams dispatched to the field included snowmobile search teams, ski teams and snowshoe teams.

Communication continued intermittently throughout the night with Mr. Euteneier in order to maintain the battery strength in his phone. Based upon information that had been received, search teams began a search of multiple trails. The search area covered approximately 28 square miles.

At approximately 1:30 am, Air Link pilots and crew launched their aircraft with a Search and Rescue member on board in an attempt to assist with the search. Air link was forced to return to Bend due to hazardous flying conditions.

As the night continued communication became limited and was eventually lost with Mr. Euteneier. Weather conditions throughout the night changed often.

Due to the complexity and length of the search it was determined to request additional resources for the daylight hours in the event that Mr. Euteneier was not located. Additional resources were scheduled to arrive at 6:00 am to relieve the search teams in the field. These resources included Deschutes County Sheriff's Deputies, Search and Rescue team members, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue and USFS Law Enforcement Officers.

Search and Rescue teams continued to search throughout the night and at approximately 5:25 am a Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue snow shoe team located the subject after following tracks that had earlier in the night been located by a ski team.

Mr. Euteneier was located in the Fall Creek drainage area approximately 5 miles northwest of Todd Lake and approximately 3 miles north of Sparks Lake.

Mr. Euteneier was in fair condition and was treated at the scene, provided additional clothing, food and water and then walked out with the Search and Rescue team until meet by snowmobile teams and then transported back to the area of Dutchman Flat were a command post had been established. He was re-united with his family Thursday morning.
Click the link to watch the KOHD Video!



Here is the rest of the story

"The right way to spend the night lost"
LEAD EDITORIAL in The Bulletin
Published on Monday, April 13, 2009

The food, water and clothing could very well have meant the difference between life and death had Euteneier gotten wet or been lost for more than the 15 hours he actually was.

Mathew Euteneier, of Bend, may have let the beauty of the moment lead him astray a couple of days ago, but thanks to his forethought that mistake never turned into the tragedy it could have been. His is a tale that should be a reminder to all who venture into the wilds of Central Oregon alone.

Euteneier went snowboarding last Wednesday, arguably one of the prettiest and surely one of the warmest days so far this year. In fact, the weather was so nice he believed he could not only snowboard but get in some hiking, as well.

Things did not turn out as Euteneier had planned, however, and as it began to grow dark, he knew that he was lost. He called his girlfriend, who in turn called 911, and Deschutes County Search and Rescue responded. By 9:30 Wednesday night, at least 20 people were actively searching, and a helicopter joined the hunt early the next morning. It was forced to return home, however, when the weather proved too bad to fly. A member of the county Search and Rescue team found Euteneier about 5:30 Thursday morning, safe, sound and very grateful.

So what all did Euteneier do right? He had a charged cellular telephone with him, for one thing, so he could call when he realized he was in trouble. He knew how to build a snow cave, which helped him keep warm. And he took extra clothing, food and water with him, which made the night he spent in the snow safer and more comfortable than it otherwise would have been.

The food, water and clothing could very well have meant the difference between life and death had Euteneier gotten wet or been lost for more than the 15 hours he actually was. In cold weather, dry clothing is critical, and it snowed all night in the area between Todd and Sparks lakes, where he was. Having food and water was equally important.

Too often, spring adventurers fail to take the sort of precautions Euteneier did, with predictable results. Spring storms that bring rain to Bend dump snow on higher elevations, and those caught unprepared can pay a high price.

We don't recommend getting lost, of course, no matter how stunning the scenery, but if one is going to do so, he should do it the way Mathew Euteneier did.


Read our analysis of this event

"Lost snowboarder could have been better prepared"
Op Ed - In My View, The Bulletin
By Robert Speik, Bulletin Guest Columnist
Published on Saturday, May 2, 2009

The recent Editorial in the Bulletin was helpful to its readers, however-
The Bulletin lead Editorial on April 13, 2009, proclaimed: “The right way to spend the night lost”. The Editor notes that Mathew Euteneier was well prepared with clothing, food, water and a charged cellular telephone.

Rescuers from both SAR and USFS, confirmed that Mr. Euteneier was not “well prepared” for his adventure. He was not familiar with the area and did not know the terrain or the names of important land features when communicating on the cell phone with Rescuers.

He did not have a map, compass or GPS. Due to the light snow fall and darkening sky, he was even unable to know which way was south toward the closed Cascade Lakes Highway. Reportedly, he wandered as much as six miles during his ordeal.

He was wearing snowboard boots and did not have snow shoes. As the snow warmed during the day, he broke through the crust. He was found after rescuers picked up his trail, post holed in the snow.

He did not have the Essential flash light (or head lamp), one of the ten individual items of the classic "Ten Essentials" list of yesteryear. Rescue volunteers believe they might have found him during the long night by spotting his light through the gloom.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Unit has produced a pamphlet, which describes the new Ten Essential Systems offered recently by The Mountaineers to their 10,500 Club members and to the general public. This SAR pamphlet tells citizens "How to be Prepared" for the inevitable backcountry mishaps and strandings.

Mr. Euteneier was not prepared to stay sheltered overnight in the snow. He did not have at least a 6 ounce plastic shelter "bivy" bag or a plastic shovel and insulating pad, that are needed to build a proper "snow cave" as reported by The Bulletin. A snow cave is defined as shelter constructed in the snow with the entrance below the occupancy level, trapping warmer air.

Search and Rescue officers confirmed that the night time temperature at the general location of the lost hiker was about 37 degrees Fahrenheit, with calm winds and light snow fall and that he was not wet so they were certain he would survive the night relatively unharmed by cold.

Mr. Euteneier was young, fit and confident and agreed to stay in one place until found. He used his snowboard to enlarge a hole in the snow near a tree and "hunkered down in a hasty shelter" after being asked to do so on the cell phone by Rescuers.

He did have "weather proof clothing" providing enough insulation for the forecast weather and some water and snacks. (I do not know if he had a small day pack with the extra clothing layers and other Essentials.)

He did have a cell phone as noted in The Bulletin Editorial. He climbed to the top of a ridge and was able to reach the only available cell tower (atop Mount Bachelor). However, apparently he did not call until after 7 pm, well after dark. His Responsible Person does not appear to have had an agreed time earlier in the day, to call 911 for SAR advice and assistance.

An attempt to locate Mr. Euteneier by analysis of his cell phone signal provided limited results because only one cell tower was covering his location. Cell phone providers must give the required coordinates in latitude and longitude (deceptively called "GPS Coordinates" by marketing people in the industry). Triangulation through three or more cell tower pings is very accurate - enough so that "turn by turn" driving instructions can be given to locate a restaurant or post office. Communication with at least two towers if needed to provide actual coordinates.

Most cell phones do not have an internal GPS; the more expensive models may have this special GPS feature. Note that most cell phone providers reportedly do not locate individuals from information gained from an internal GPS chip (with an antenna in the caller's cell phone contacting the Department of Defense (GPS) satellites), even if the phone is equipped with a GPS.

The attempt to obtain the latitude and longitude coordinates of Mr. Euteneier failed because only one cell tower was in contact with his phone and not necessarily "due to dated technology in the phone" as reported in the news. Just carry your every day digital cell phone on your adventures into the backcountry.

Each person going into the backcountry should dress for the forecast weather, carry high carbohydrate snacks, two quarts of water, a map and compass and optional inexpensive GPS and the skills to use them, and a charged everyday cell phone. Carry the rest of your personal "Ten Essentials Systems" in a day pack sized for the season and the forecast weather, five pounds in summer.
--Robert Speik lives in Bend and writes the blog

The Bulletin


What can be learned from this incident?

1. Practice the Four Basic Responsibilities of the Backcountry Traveler.  Basic

2. Carry the new Ten Essential Systems, sized for the forecast weather and the adventure in a light day pack. This includes a map, compass and GPS and the skills to use them. In the winter, this includes enough extra insulation and waterproof clothing to keep you dry and warm if you become stranded. In snow, you must have a shovel and insulating pad and the skills to make a shelter in the snow to avoid hypothermia and frost bite damage.  Essentials

3. Carry a fully charged digital cell phone  Death on Mt. Rainier   and periodically check where it can communicate with any cell towers to assist authorities to triangulate your position from cell tower pings. (Most cell providers do not use cell phone GPS signals to locate customers with lat-lon Coordinants, as required under FCC e911 regulations - they use triangulation). Cold disables batteries. If the weather is cold, carry the cell phone in a pants pocket near the femoral artery. Report your UTM NAD27 coordinates, your condition, the conditions where you are and discuss your plans with SAR.  Cell Phones   If you may be out of cell tower range, carry a SPOT.  SPOT Satellite Messenger

4. Always stay found on your map and by being aware of major land features such as Mt. Bachelor. If visibility starts to wane, reconfirm your bearings with your map, compass and GPS and quickly return to a known location (Cascade Lakes Highway, Mt. Bachelor, a Nordic Shelter, etc.) A GPS is the only practical way for a trained individual to navigate in a whiteout or blowing snow.  Lost Mt Hood Climbers


A suggested minimum standard news advisory for all backcountry travelers

"We would like to take this opportunity to ask our visitors to the backcountry of Oregon to plan for the unexpected.  Each person should dress for the forecast weather and take minimum extra clothing protection from a drop in temperature and possible rain or snow storm or an unexpected cold wet night out, insulation from the wet ground or snow, high carbohydrate snacks, two quarts of water or Gatorade, a map and compass and optional inexpensive GPS and the skills to use them, and a charged cell phone and inexpensive walkie-talkie radios. Carry the traditional personal "Ten Essentials Systems" in a day pack sized for the season and the forecast weather.

Visitors are reminded to tell a Responsible Person where they are going, where they plan to park, when they will be back and to make sure that person understands that they are relied upon to call 911 at a certain time if the backcountry traveler has not returned. If you become lost or stranded, mark your location and stay still or move around your marked location to stay warm. Do not try to find your way until you are exhausted, or worse yet - wet. Wait for rescuers.



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Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated

Read more . . .
Gear grist, an article written for The Mountaineer, the monthly newsletter of The Mountaineers
Robert Speik writes: "Use your digital cell in the backcountry" for The Mountaineer
Snowboarder lost overnight near Mount Bachelor, rescued by SAR 
Woman leaves car stuck in snow near Klamath Falls, dies from exposure
Man rescued from crevasse just off South Sister climber's trail
Climbing South Sister: A Prospectus and a Labor Day near disaster
Trail runner survives fall on ice with cell phone call
Once again, hypothermia kills stranded Oregon driver
Lessons learned from the latest lost Mt. Hood climbers
Lessons learned from the latest lost Christmas tree hunters
FREE Clinic on Real Survival Strategies and Staying Found with Map, Compass and GPS together
What do you carry in your winter day and summit pack?
Why are "Snow Caves" dangerous?
Why are "Space Blankets" dangerous?
Why are "Emergency Kits" dangerous?
How can you avoid Hypothermia?
Missing climbers on Mount Hood, one dies of exposure, two believed killed in fall
Missing California family found, dad dies from exposure and hypothermia
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Olympic Champion Rulon Gardner lost on snowmobile!
Lost Olympic hockey player looses feet to cold injury 

Expert skier lost five days near resort in North Cascades without map, compass, gps or cell phone 
Mount Hood - The Episcopal School Tragedy
Mount Hood - experienced climbers rescued from snow cave
How can you learn the skills of snow camping?   Prospectus

Lost and Found
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Longacre Expeditions teen group rescued from the snowdrifts above Todd Lake
Lost climber hikes 6.5 miles from South Sister Trail to Elk Lake
Hiking couple lost three nights in San Jacinto Wilderness find abandoned gear
Expert skier lost five days in North Cascades without Essentials, map and compass
Climber disappears on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin
Hiker lost five days in freezing weather on Mount Hood
Professor and son elude search and rescue volunteers
Found person becomes lost and eludes rescuers for five days
Teens, lost on South Sister, use cell phone with Search and Rescue
Lost man walks 27 miles to the highway from Elk Lake Oregon
Snowboarder Found After Week in Wilderness
Searchers rescue hiker at Smith Rock, find lost climbers on North Sister
Girl Found In Lane County After Lost On Hiking Trip
Search and rescue finds young girls lost from family group
Portland athlete lost on Mt. Hood
Rescues after the recent snows
Novice couple lost in the woods
Broken Top remains confirmed as missing climber
Ollalie Trail - OSU Trip - Lost, No Map, Inadequate Clothing

 Your Essential Light Day Pack
What are the new Ten Essential Systems?
What does experience tell us about Light and Fast climbing?
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
What is Light and Fast alpine climbing?
What do you carry in your day pack?      Photos?    
What do you carry in your winter day pack?       Photos?    
What should I know about "space blankets"?
Where can I get a personal and a group first aid kit?      Photos?

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Is running the Western States 100 part of "traditional mountaineering"?
What's wrong with GORP?    Answers to the quiz!
Why do I need to count carbohydrate calories?
What should I know about having a big freeze-dried dinner?
What about carbo-ration and fluid replacement during traditional alpine climbing?   4 pages in pdf  
What should I eat before a day of alpine climbing?

  About Alpine Mountaineering:
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Map, compass and GPS navigation training Noodle in The Badlands
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Searching for the perfect gift
Geocaching: What's the cache?
Geocaching into the Canyon of the Deschutes
Can you catch the geocache?
Z21 covers Geocaching
Tour The Badlands with ONDA 
The art of not getting lost
Geocaching: the thrill of the hunt!
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A GPS and other outdoor gadgets make prized gifts
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