A search-and-rescue effort is underway for a 64-year-old hiker who’s been missing in the Wind River Mountains north of Pinedale nearly a week ago.
Tip Top Search and Rescue in Sublette County is searching trails in the area for John Diepholz, who is believed to have taken his tent and hiking gear to the Elkhart Trailhead, and was expected to be out of the mountains by Aug. 16.
His family hasn’t seen or heard from him since and reported him missing Monday.
Diepholz is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, weighs 170 pounds and has long brownish-grey hair, according to the search team. He went onto the trail with a yellow tent and a red or blue backpack.
Tip Top Search and Rescue started a search for Diepholz immediately, but efforts been hampered by the weather.
“We did some helicopter flying this morning, but the weather grounded us out of the mountains,” said Sgt.Travis Bingham of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office. “Search operation planning is underway, but there are no ground teams in there yet.”
Diepholz could be somewhere around Wall Lake or Island Lake, but nobody’s certain at this point.
“We’re trying to pin a more specific area based on his itinerary, but we haven’t been able to do that yet. There are so many trails and lakes up there. ” Bingham said.
A Risky Trail
Sublette County resident and avid Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said the Wall Lane and Island Lake areas are very popular at this time of year, and the Elhkart Trailhead is “a major thoroughfare.” But this summer’s weather has made the already rugged region more treacherous.
“This summer, we’ve had fairly frequent and severe wind and thunderstorms,” Ulrich said. “It’s always a risk, (but it’s) a greater risk this summer than in years past due to the severity, intensity, and frequency of the storm fronts moving through.
Severe wind and rain could have damaged Diepholz’s equipment when he camped. But if he made camp during his multi-day hike, it has yet to be located.
“The Wind River Range can be a very dangerous place if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Ulrich said. “Hopefully, (Diepholz) is well-seasoned and prepared and ran into some challenges that slowed him down. It can be an unforgiving landscape, but with proper preparation and skills, hopefully, he’ll be alright.”
Bingham has received some tips from hikers in the area, but there are still no leads on Diepholz and his location.
Anyone who has seen him or has information that could lead to his rescue can contact Sublette County dispatch at 307-367-4378.
Andrew Rossi can be reached at email@example.com.