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Visiting Swiss mtn. biker encounters cougar near Broken Top, becomes lost; DCSO SAR’s tracked ARGO gets stuck in snow

The rescue of a lost mtn. biker near Broken Top took longer after a SAR tracked vehicle, ARGO, got stuck in snow
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
The rescue of a lost mtn. biker near Broken Top took longer after a SAR tracked vehicle, ARGO, got stuck in snow

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A lost mountain biker from Switzerland called for help Wednesday afternoon, saying he left a snowy trail near Broken Top when he encountered a cougar. The rescue took several hours because a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue tracked vehicle, ARGO, became stuck in the soft, deep snow.

County 911 dispatchers got a call shortly after 5 p.m. from the 56-year-old man who said he’d encountered the cougar while riding on Forest Service Road 370, according to Deputy Donny Patterson, assistant SAR coordinator.

The rider said he left the trail, which was covered in deep, soft snow, to avoid the mountain lion, but became disoriented and could not again find the trail. He asked for help from SAR, saying he was exhausted and did not feel he could find his way back out to the trail, Patterson said.

Two SAR volunteers responded and deployed to the area in a tracked ARGO. They found the rider shortly before 8 p.m. and he was given a ride out of the area – though in the process, the ARGO became stuck in the deep, soft snow and could not be winched out.

Another SAR page was issued for a snowmobile team to help in the rescue, Patterson said, and three volunteers responded. Snowmobiles were brought to Todd Lake and deployed shortly after. After reaching the ARGO team, both groups “worked diligently to free the stuck ARGO,” Patterson wrote in a news release.

"After several hours of digging and winching, they were able to get the ARGO freed," the deputy told NewsChannel 21.

Around 2 a.m. Thursday, both SAR teams arrived with the lost subject back to their vehicles and brought him to his vehicle, which was parked at the Cascade Lakes Visitor Center.

KTVZ news sources



  1. He was riding a regular mountain bike with 2″ wide tires in soft snow? Puhleaze…in those conditions, even 4″ fat tires would struggle. Guy was totally unprepared and irresponsible.

      1. I did. He was riding the wrong type bike for those conditions. He would have gotten into trouble, or had to walk, regardless of supposedly running into a cougar. Read my comment.

          1. No actually, he’s 100% correct. You haven’t left the house in a while. Maybe get up into the forest before commenting on stuff you have no clue about. Your ignorance on the subject shows and is kinda embarrassing. This is a town full of bikers. “Everyone” knows save for you it appears.

  2. This story doesn’t add up. How far off the trail could he have been in “deep soft snow?” A couple or few hundred yards”

    It was 5 pm or so, he had 3-4 hours of daylight left, and he had plenty of snow for hydration. He also had his phone by which he could have received directions and/or navigated back to the trail, his progress could have been monitored. He’s 56, not a kid. He could have rested a bit, hydrated, then followed HIS OWN TRACKS back to the trail and ridden DOWNHILL on 370.

    He did not NEED help at that time, he decided not to try to get out. Instead he sat on his entitled a– and put people at risk and great inconvenience. I believe in these instances he should have been told “Not yet, walk ____ yds n/s/e/w to the trail, it’s all downhill from there. Let us know how it’s going in an hour or two.”

    Barney, have you made a decision to not publish names in these so called “rescue” cases. It’s an emergency call, id is on the recording and publicly available info. A little pubilc shaming might make others try a little harder to avoid the sissy wall of shame.

    1. “he had plenty of snow for hydration.”

      If he did not have anyway to melt the snow then he couldnt have used it for hydration. You cant just eat snow for hydration.

    2. He’s a visitor from Europe, stuck in deep snow, what the H-E double L is wrong with you? Let me guess, when you were 56 you walked 5 miles to 3rd grade both ways in snow deep enough to get an ARGO stuck, right?

    3. The last thing anyone needs is public shaming. We have way too much already in our society. Getting lost in the woods is never fun and its scary so quit playing hindsight, armchair quarterback and give the guy a break. Thankfully we have wonderful people who will rescue those who get into trouble

  3. Where’s the drought we always hear about from the fear mongering climate police? Again. I’ll keep repeating it. Over 100 inches of snow sitting up at south sister. And it’s June in 5 days…..

  4. A cougar out in deep snow where their are no deer yet? And what did the cougar do? Sorry not sorry. It’s ok to question something that seems a tad off.

    1. Another tourist who never goes into the mountains. There are cat tracks in the snow up there all the time. I saw some north of Tumalo Mt. a month ago.

  5. SAR is made up of folks who should know better than to buy a narrow 2400# rig and think it would work in the snow. ARGOs are famous for delivering the same performance as a boat anchor

    1. Excuse me, don’t lay the blame on SAR, put the blame on Sherrif Nelson. Bought extra cruisers so the do-nothings can have take home cars. That dumb tracked vehicle too. Snowmobiles obviously work. But leave it to hot shot car chasing Nelson to figure out a way to make it expensive. I love how the Boomers on here cry about taxes and gov waste all day long but still will vote for Nelson. He’s had what, $2.5 Mil in lawsuits in the past year our tax dollars had to pay.

  6. That bike looks like it is set up for bike packing with a homemade setup (camping) It is way too early to be up on the 370 road and most likely in continuous snow for many miles especially with the cold spring we had. My guess is the guy had a mission to do that road as part of a tour he read about on the internet. Sticking to goals in the outdoors regardless of conditions frequently has bad outcomes. Maybe that road could be ridden with a fat tire bike early in the morning when the snow was hopefully frozen but late in the day on smaller tires with a camping load??

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