(Moose, Wyo.) - Park rangers have recently responded to several incidents involving rescue and medical assistance of visitors, including two major rescues this last week.
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, "Grand Teton has some of the most skilled and experienced staff in the National Park Service. Recent major search and rescue incidents have kept park rangers very busy. As superintendent, I always consider the risk to our employees as we initiate operations to assist, rescue or save the lives of our visitors."
Vela strongly encourages anyone that may attempt to experience the iconic peaks or any other outdoor experience in the park to be as prepared as possible.
Teton Interagency Dispatch received a report of two people stranded on Petzoldt Ridge at approximately 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9. The incident was reported by another climbing party that heard calls for help from two 20-year old male climbers from Shreveport, Louisiana.
In an effort to summit the Grand Teton, they went off route and found themselves stranded on a ledge after one of the men took a 25-foot fall and lost much of their rock climbing gear in the process. They had a cell phone but service was unavailable. The climbers spent approximately four hours trying to find the correct route, before yelling for help as they saw other climbers on Exum Ridge.
The weather conditions and remaining daylight were optimal for park rangers to successfully extract the two men by helicopter short haul. The men were not injured. On Thursday, the men hiked back to retrieve their overnight camping gear from the moraine in Garnet Canyon.
One of the rescued men said, "We severely underestimated the physical strength and endurance required for the climb.”
On Wednesday, August 10, park rangers rescued a climber from Mount Moran. A 30-year old man from Russia attempted to climb Mount Moran via the Falling Ice Glacier. He started his adventure early morning Tuesday, August 9, and camped in the area of the glacier that evening. On Wednesday he tried to ascend between Drizzlepuss and CMC Route, but found it to be more difficult than anticipated. He downclimbed to the glacier and determined he could not find a safe way to descend further. He then contacted a friend to help, and his friend went to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache to alert Jenny Lake Rangers.
Rangers flew to the site and assisted the climber onto the Teton Interagency Helicopter and flew him to safety. He was not injured.
An interview with the climber indicated that he did not gather any credible information about climbing Mount Moran, was not properly equipped for such a climb, and did not stop at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station or obtain a backcountry permit to camp. Based on these actions or lack of actions, he was issued a citation for creating a hazardous condition.
Park rangers remind anyone planning to climb in the Teton Range to be prepared for the alpine environment with appropriate skills, abilities and equipment.
Grand Teton National Park Chief Ranger Michael Nash said, "The altitude and difficulty of the terrain can be overlooked by many." He highly encourages anyone attempting to climb within the park to visit the Jenny Lake Ranger Station to have a conversation with park rangers concerning the planned route of travel, as well be physically conditioned for the altitude. Nash said, “As one of our rangers commented, ‘the Teton Peaks demand respect from all of us’.”
On Wednesday, August 10, rangers also responded to a 57-year old female from Jackson that injured her shoulder. She was hiking in Garnet Canyon on the Surprise Lake Trail when she stumbled and injured herself. Rangers responded by hiking to her location with a litter, prepared to carry her out. She was able to hike out on her own after medical treatment from rangers.
As expected, this year has been quite busy at the park. Park staff has responded to over 200 emergency medical incidents this calendar year, seven of which recently happened within one 24-hour period. These incidents range from sprained ankle or minor bee stings, to breathing difficulty, heart attack, stroke and serious injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. The park operates and staffs three ambulances during the summer months, and works cooperatively with St. John’s Medical Center.
Feature Photo: An injured climber--accompanied by an attending park ranger--is short-hauled from the Teton Range by a Teton Interagency contract helicopter during a rescue mission in 2006 at Grand Teton National Park. Photo provided by Grand Teton National Park.