Reality Shows Help Boy Lost on Frigid Mountain

14-year-old boy endured temperature as low as minus-5 degrees for nine hours.

ByABC News
January 2, 2011, 7:02 PM

Jan. 2, 2011— -- A 14-year-old boy who found himself stranded on an Oregon mountain while skiing on New Year's Eve said he used skills learned from reality television to find his way out of the woods.

Jake Denham of Portland was found after a nine-hour search on Mount Bachelor, Oregon, having endured temperatures as low as minus-5 degrees and built a small snow cave to stay warm.

Denham attributed his useful survival skills to information that he learned on two of his favorite TV Shows, "Man vs. Wild" and "Survivor Man."

"I love those shows," he said in an interview with ABC affiliate KOHD-TV in Bend, Ore.

While skiing Friday in steep terrain, Denham lost one of his skis. He said he removed his skis and managed to move out of the area on foot, but as it got dark the teen built a small snow cave for cover.

The teen was reported missing around 5:30 p.m. by his family, but it wasn't until midnight that he was found.

"It started getting dark, and I saw the stars. I saw Venus -- it was red and bigger than the North Star. I dug a canal, and it went up a hill, so the wind would blow over it so the wind wouldn't hit me," Denham said.

The teen recounted how after three hours he saw helicopters flying above him, but they didn't come back.

Recalling what he'd learned on "Man vs. Wild" and "Survivor Man," he said he found ski trails and followed them down the mountain.

"I went down and then when I got lost, I got down on my hands and knees and followed the trail again," he said "I walked down, and then I saw lights."

Becky Denham, Jake's mom, said she is amazed at her son's resourcefulness and survival skills.

"I feel like I've gone through something totally unreal. It's phenomenal," she said. "What was incredible is that Jake got out in perfect condition.

"Determination," she said. "He has a lot of determination when he sets his mind to something."