Rangers conduct three major rescues in less than 24 hours

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NPS Photo – R. Politis

Wyo4news Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

MOOSE, WYOMING — Grand Teton National Park Rangers conducted three major search and rescue operations within 24 hours this week. August is a busy time for search and rescue personnel as backcountry activity increases in the Tetons in the summer.

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On Monday, August 8, at approximately 1:30 p.m., Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of a disoriented 21-year-old female at Surprise Lake. Park rangers were flown via the Teton Interagency helicopter to a landing zone near Surprise Lake and approached the patient on foot. The patient was then transported via short-haul out of the backcountry to Lupine Meadows where she was transported via ambulance to St. John’s Health.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received another call from a party reporting their friend, a 22-year-old female, had hurt her back after she jumped into Phelps Lake from the rock feature known as “Jump Rock.” The patient was unable to walk more than a few steps. Park rangers were flown via the Teton Interagency helicopter to Phelps Lake to evaluate the patient. The patient was then transported via short-haul to White Grass Ranch where she declined further medical transport.

Tuesday morning at approximately 8 a.m., a climber on the traverse between Teewinot Mountain and Mount Owen contacted Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to report that his climbing partner had taken a several-hundred-foot, un-roped fall, had a severe head injury, and possibly broken bones in his extremities. Park rangers responded via the Teton Interagency helicopter and placed four rangers and rescue gear via helicopter short-haul to the accident site. The patient, a 24-year-old male, was treated and flown to Lupine Meadows where an emergency physician, park ambulance crew, and air ambulance crew further stabilized him. The patient was then transported via Air Idaho Rescue to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

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When traveling into the backcountry, remember to plan ahead and follow these basic recommendations:

  • Set a reasonable objective based on your group’s experience. When planning a hike or climb, make sure it is well within the abilities of your least experienced group member.
  • Know the weather forecast and be prepared for rain, snow, ice, and cold. Temperatures and precipitation patterns can change rapidly in the high elevations of the Tetons.
  • Pay special attention when descending and moving across slippery surfaces. Most mountain accidents occur on the descent.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn around. “Summit fever” can be the greatest hazard of all.
  • Research your intended route by consulting topographic maps, guidebooks, and rangers.
  • Always tell a friend or family member your route, and when you intend to return.
  • Be prepared to care for yourself or your partner in case of an injury and carry the equipment, food, and water necessary to stay out longer than you expect.

Visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grte to learn more about the park and your planned activity before heading out.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or individuals, often with gear, are suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250-foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.

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