FOUND: Missing Snowboarder on Mt. Ashland found alive

Eli Kepsel, a snowboarder who has been missing on Mt. Ashland since Sunday, has been found alive by Search and Rescue teams. Photo Courtesy Mt. Ashland Ski Area

UPDATE (3:10 p.m.) -

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue has released a final update on the rescue and condition of Eli Kepsel, the snowboarder who went missing on Mt. Ashland for two nights.

Kepsel was found alive Tuesday morning. The Sheriff's Office reports that he was cold, but in good spirits when rescuers found him just before 10:30 a.m.

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

A SAR team from Klamath County was patrolling US Forest Service Road 2060 north of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area when Kepsel appeared from the hillside above the road. Kepsel was cold and hungry, but he was able to walk and talk to rescuers. After giving him food and water, rescuers brought Kepsel to an Ashland Fire & Rescue ambulance.

Kepsel was first reunited with him family before being transported to Rogue Regional Medical Center to be evaluated for hypothermia.

According to Lauren Van Sickle, Senior Public Relations Specialist with RRMC, Kepsel is in fair condition, and his vitals are stable. However, he is expected to stay overnight at the hospital for observation.

Kepsel was first reported as missing by his mother on Monday when he didn't return from a snowboarding trip on Sunday. When Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol found that his car was still parked at the mountain, SAR was activated.

The search effort was mainly conducted on the ground with teams of hikers scouring likely travel routes through the forested terrain. Brim Aviation provided air support on both days, searching by helicopter despite less than favorable weather conditions. 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, according to the JCSO.

Kepsel would later tell rescuers that he heard sounds made by searchers, including sirens and a helicopter, but he was disoriented and he was not able to signal back. Kepsel was not prepared to spend the night in the backcountry. He said he sheltered beneath the tree canopy each night.

ORIGINAL (11:15 a.m.) -

Jackson County Search and Rescue has found missing snowboarder Eli Kepsel alive.

He is speaking with rescuers and is en route to receive medical attention for mild hypothermia. More information regarding the search and rescue effort will be released later today.

According to Mt. Ashland Ski Area, Kepsel was found near the 2060 Road in the Ashland watershed.

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