Grand Teton National Park Rangers rescued three backcountry skiers Christmas morning after they spent the night in a snow cave.
The skiers were identified as Drew McCord,32, of Houston, Texas; Kevin Livingston,37, of Afton, Wyoming; and Patrick Callihan,24, of Jackson, Wyoming.
According to park rangers, the three intended to ski Rock Springs Bowl in the Bridger-Teton National Forest but lost their way because of poor visibility just after leaving the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski area boundary.
McCord’s girlfriend notified Teton County Search and Rescue at around 6:30 p.m. Saturday. She reported receiving a text message from the men stating they were in trouble and needed help.
Park rangers were notified at around 7 p.m. They were able to establish text communication with the three men around 10 p.m.
The men were uninjured and built a snow cave and fire.
Two park rangers and two members of the Resort Ski Patrol began their rescue of the three at first light Sunday. They located the party’s ski tracks in an area commonly referred to as “Cam’s Run”.
Rescuers led the group to Teton Village at approximately 1:15 p.m. Sunday. The three skiers were equipped with basic backcountry gear including avalanche beacons, probes, and shovels. However, the men had little food, water, extra clothing or other emergency equipment.
Park Rangers said that even though the resort’s ski patrol closed the backcountry gates above the descent route, they encountered multiple parties who had violated the closure. They said those skiers increased the risk of a skier-triggered avalanche.