Trapped in the Darby Ice Cave

Idaho Falls, Idaho

HAD WE FINALLY FOUND A WAY OUT? I watched from a ledge, shivering, as my husband, Spencer, free-climbed the slick rock walls to the top of a waterfall. We’d been lost in the Darby Ice and Wind Caves in the Tetons for more than 24 hours. He had to be as cold and tired as I was, yet he kept going. Ten feet, 20, 30… There, he made it to the top. He pointed his fading flashlight at the spot where the water gushed from. Was there an opening we could squeeze through?

Exploring the caves was supposed to be a present for Spencer’s thirty-first birthday. We planned a big adventure like it every year—skydiving, hiking Table Mountain—to celebrate. We’re experienced outdoors people. We even got engaged on top of 12,662-foot Mount Borah, Idaho’s tallest peak. We’ve been rock climbing for more than five years, and we’d spent several weeks researching the caves.

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