Search and Rescue Operations-September 2015

Rangers Spend Night with Injured Climber and Transport Off Mountain


Date: September 1, 2015
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393


MOOSE, WY — Jenny Lake Rangers responded to an injured climber in Garnet Canyon Monday night, and transported him from the area early this morning, Tuesday, September 1.
Anthony McCormack, 55 year-old male from Decatur, Illinois, was coming down the South Fork of Garnet Canyon Monday evening after climbing the Middle Teton in Grand Teton National Park. As he was descending, he lost control and slid down a rock slab and injured his ankle.With help from his climbing partner and another climbing party, he crawled to a nearby backcountry campsite where others assisted him.A call for help was made to 911 and transferred to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Jenny Lake Rangers responded by hiking to the site and treating McCormack's injuries.Due to the time of day, and impending darkness, an aerial transport was not possible.The rangers stayed at the scene with the injured climber through the night.The Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter was used to short-haul McCormack and a ranger to Lupine Meadows at approximately 7 a.m. today.The climber was then transported via ambulance to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson Hole.
Rangers remind climbers and backcountry users that day-light hours are decreasing, as well as staffing levels in the park.Climbers and other recreationists should not assume that an aerial rescue is always available.All backcountry users should be prepared with appropriate equipment for their respective activity, as well as be prepared to spend an extra night in the backcountry if needed.

Search and Rescue Operations-August 2015

Climber Rescued from Middle Teton on Saturday

Date: August 31, 2015
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393


MOOSE, WY —Jenny Lake Rangers rescued a climber from the Middle Teton on Saturday afternoon.At approximately 12 p.m. on Saturday, August 29, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call that 21-year old Justin Bodrero of Moran, Wyoming, fell about 100 feet on a snowfield and another 100 feet into a boulder field on the Middle Teton.The initial report indicated the climber fell while descending the Southwest Couloir of the Middle Teton, and was unconscious.
The Teton Interagency contract helicopter transported two rangers to a landing zone about 200 feet below the incident.The rangers climbed to the scene, and were joined by a third ranger that was in the area.Rangers treated the climber's injuries, including head and leg injuries, and secured him in a rescue litter.The climber and a park ranger were short hauled to Lupine Meadows.The injured climber was transported via ambulance to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson Hole.
Rangers remind climbers that this time of year most of the remaining snowfields are steep and very firm with poor runouts.Ice axes and crampons, and knowledge in their use, are essential for safe travel on steep snowfields, and self-arrest in the event of a fall may not be possible.Climbers should recognize these hazards and be prepared with proper equipment and skills.
Since January, Grand Teton National Park Rangers have responded to 65 search and rescue incidents in the park.Approximately half of these incidents have been major search and rescue situations.



Two Climbers Suffer Fatal Fall on Teewinot Mountain


Summit of Teewinot Mountain as seen from Teewinot Apex.
The summit of Teewinot Mountain as seen from the Teewinot Apex.
A. White

News Release Date: August 23, 2015
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307-739-3393

MOOSE, WY —The Jenny Lake Rangers, Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter, and emergency medical personnel swung into action just after 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 22 to assist two separate parties. The first and more serious accident consisted of a party of three climbers attempting to climb to the summit of Teewinot Mountain. Two of the climbers suffered a fatal fall of approximately 200 feet. The two climbers were Tyler Strandberg, 27, originally from Raleigh, North Carolina and Catherine Nix, 28, originally from Port Chester, New York. Both women were residents of Jackson, Wyoming.
At approximately 11:15 a.m. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a cell phone call for assistance via 911 from Rebecca Anderson, 26, also of Jackson, Wyoming. Anderson reported that the two other members of her climbing party, Strandberg and Nix, had fallen and were now out of sight. She made repeated attempts to yell down to her companions, but received no reply. Anderson was stuck on a small ledge and could not move to see her companions.
Upon receiving the call, rangers quickly assembled a plan to reach the three climbers. Three rangers were inserted via short-haul to Strandberg and Nix's location, a rocky ledge at an elevation of about 11,500 feet located just above the "Worshipper" and "Idol" rock towers. On arrival, the rangers assessed the condition of Strandberg and Nix, who were both unresponsive after taking an apparent fall of 200 feet. They were pronounced dead on the scene by the rangers in consultation with park medical director Dr. Will Smith.
The rangers then turned their attention to Anderson who was stranded above the scene. Two rangers climbed steep and technical terrain for about an hour to reach Anderson, who was uninjured, and prepared her for an evacuation. She was short-hauled with an attending ranger to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 4:19 p.m. The remaining ranger then rappelled back down to Strandberg and Nix's location.
The rangers prepared the deceased for evacuation as a second call for assistance came in. Doug Lawton, 45, of Alpine, Wyoming, was hiking on his own in Avalanche Canyon just above Lake Taminah when he accidentally pulled a "suitcase-sized" rock down on himself, injuring his leg. He was able to move a few hundred feet to a more level location where the helicopter landed and evacuated Lawton to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 5:16 p.m. He was transported by ambulance to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.
The helicopter returned to Teewinot Mountain to fly the deceased to the rescue cache via long-line where they were transferred to Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue. The two remaining rangers were then flown back to the rescue cache via short-haul.
The three women were attempting to ascend the East Face of Teewinot Mountain. The East Face is the typical route to the summit of Teewinot and also the easiest. It is rated a class 4.0 climb, meaning that it consists of exposed rock climbing but is not considered technical in nature. Though the route is frequently climbed without ropes, the terrain is very steep and good route-finding skills, mountaineering experience, and caution are essential. The climbers were well off the East Face route and in much more difficult technical terrain when the fall occurred. They were not using ropes at the time of the fall and were apparently trying to find the proper route.
About Short-Haul Rescue: Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 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.
Photo:The summit of Teewinot Mo

Two Fatigued Climbers Rescued from Middle Teton

         
Date: August 12, 2015
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393


Tuesday evening, August 11, Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a short-haul rescue of two uninjured, yet considerably fatigued, climbers from the Middle Teton. Nick Christu, 64, and his brother Eric Christu, 57, from Palm Beach, Florida, decided they were not able to continue their climb after getting off route while attempting to ascend the 'Dike Route' on the Middle Teton. Unable to locate the top of the Dike Pinnacle, a prominent feature of the route, the Christu brothers began down climbing and rappelling towards the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. Due to their uncertainty about the terrain they encountered, combined with their state of exhaustion, the Christus called park rangers at mid-afternoon to request a rescue from their predicament.
Upon receiving the first call for help at approximately 3:45 p.m., rangers made several attempts via cell phone to direct the Christu brothers into easier terrain so they could continue their descent. Those efforts failed due to the climbers' level of fatigue and their inability to keep moving. Continued requests by the climbers for a rescue, combined with concern regarding their mental and physical state, prompted park rangers to determine that the best option for the Christu brothers' safety would be to short-haul the pair off the mountain. A Teton Interagency contract helicopter was summoned, and the ship arrived at the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at 5:00 p.m. One ranger was inserted via short-haul to prepare the climbers for an aerial rescue by placing them in an evacuation harness. The climbers were then flown in separate trips and delivered to the rescue cache at Lupine Meadows. The rescue mission concluded at 7:40 p.m.
Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is placed in either an evacuation harness or a rescue litter and suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. This method is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter due to the rugged and vertical terrain. 
Although many climbers consider the Dike Route—rated 5.5 –5.6 on the Yosemite Decimal System—to be an easy route, those attempting this option should note that it includes almost 3,000 vertical feet of climbing through complex terrain. Parties descending the route from points other than the summit of the Middle Teton (elevation 12,804 feet) must be prepared for attentive route finding through loose rock that is much more challenging and complicated than the standard descent route via the Southwest Couloir.
The Christu brothers reported to park rangers that they have 39 years of climbing experience in the Teton Range.
Grand Teton National Park rangers want to underscore the point that calling for a rescue is a serious request, with the outcome never guaranteed. It is important for climbers and backcountry travelers to recognize the risk they are creating to others when requesting a rescue.
untain as seen from the Teewinot Apex. Credit A. White.



Search & Rescue Operations - July 2015

Two Climbers Take Sliding Fall on Middle Teton




MiddleTeton_7
The Middle Teton offers several popular climbs and scrambling routes for day hikers from Garnet Canyon.
Photo by Ann Mattson

On Saturday, July 25, two climbers fell and slid on a patch of snow while descending from the Dike Pinnacle on the south face of the Middle Teton in Grand Teton National Park. The climbers, Jordan Lister and Carrie Schwartz, both 25 and residents of Jackson, Wyoming, slid approximately 200 feet on snow and rocky terrain before coming to a stop on a grassy ledge. Lister sustained serious injuries requiring an evacuation by helicopter, while Schwartz sustained minor injuries.News Release Date: July 26, 2015 
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call for assistance at 5:22 p.m. from Schwartz. Park rangers quickly responded from the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at Lupine Meadows. They were joined by the Teton Interagency contract helicopter, which had been assisting with an extensive search for a missing person near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. The helicopter was able to land relatively near to the grassy ledge and insert three park rangers who made a short climb to reach the injured climbers. Rangers provided medical care while preparations were made for an expeditious short-haul evacuation of Lister.
Lister and an attending park ranger were short-hauled from the grassy ledge directly to the rescue cache on the valley floor just before sunset. There, Lister was transferred to a waiting park ambulance and transported to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The helicopter then returned to the site of the accident and short-hauled Schwartz and the two remaining rangers to the rescue cache. The rescue mission was completed shortly after 9:00 p.m., just before darkness would have made further operations impossible.
Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. This method is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter because of the rugged and precipitous terrain. 
The fall occurred while the two climbers were descending on snow about 400 feet below the summit of the Dike Pinnacle. This type of fall—one that occurs while descending on snow—is a very common cause of mountaineering-related injuries in Grand Teton National Park. Rangers encourage climbers to pay special attention while descending on snow, and to wear helmets whenever moving about in the vertical terrain of the Teton Range where rockfalls, or a slip and fall in rock-strewn areas, can pose a danger.
This rescue was the second helicopter-assisted rescue mission of the day in the park. Rangers also flew a climber who had become ill from the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton around 7:30 on Saturday morning.
After completing this rescue, the Teton Interagency contract helicopter flew to Yellowstone to assist with the continuing search efforts for the missing person.


Hiker/Climber Injured by Dislodged Boulder on the Grand Teton




Short-haul SAR_2006
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.
Photo from Grand Teton National Park files

Contact:
Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393
News Release Date: July 22, 2015

On Tuesday, July 21, a large boulder dislodged and rolled over the arm of a hiker/climber, causing severe injury to his limb and prompting a helicopter-assisted rescue by Grand Teton National Park rangers. Tucker Zibilich, 26, of Jackson, Wyoming and his partner were on their descent after making a day trek to the Upper Saddle of the Grand Teton, elevation 13,285 feet, when he was injured by the boulder.
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received an emergency call for help at 12:40 p.m. from Zibilich's partner and several other climbers, and park rangers immediately initiated a rescue operation. A backcountry ranger and a retired Jenny Lake Subdistrict ranger happened to be approaching the base of the headwall, just below the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton, when the call came in. They promptly advanced to the Lower Saddle, picked up essential gear at the park's backcountry rescue cache, and ascended another 1,200+ feet to the accident site. They reached Zibilich at 2:15 p.m., assessed his condition, and provided emergency medical care until additional park rangers could arrive.
Due to nature of Zibilich's injury, and concern about attempting to hike him downslope over steep and rocky terrain to reach the Grand Teton's broad and somewhat flat Lower Saddle for an aerial evacuation, a decision was made to use the Teton Interagency contract helicopter to instead short-haul Zibilich directly from his high elevation site on the Grand Teton to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache on the valley floor.
Whenever a helicopter is used to evacuate an injured person(s) from the Teton backcountry, it is preferable to fly the patient inside the ship. Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. This method is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter because of the rugged and precipitous terrain. 
To prepare Zibilich for the short-haul flight, one additional park ranger was flown to the 11,600-foot Lower Saddle. Carrying additional emergency medical gear and a short-haul evacuation suit, the ranger hiked upslope to reach the accident site—a distance of nearly one mile and 1,200 vertical feet of steep terrain.
After he was placed into the evacuation suit and tethered to a short-haul line attached to the belly of the helicopter, Zibilich was flown at 5:15 p.m. suspended below the ship—and in tandem with an attending ranger—directly to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at Lupine Meadows, elevation 6,762 feet. He was then transferred to a waiting park ambulance and transported to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson.
It appears that Zibilich stepped on and dislodged several small boulders during his descent, which in turn loosened a large boulder and allowed it to roll over his arm. Because they were pursuing just a day hike to the Upper Saddle—and not attempting a technical climb—Zibilich and his partner did not have climbing ropes or harnesses with them. They did have helmets at the time of the incident.

Rockfall on Middle Teton Injures Climber & Activates Aerial Rescue




MiddleTeton_7
A black diabase (igneous rock) dike prominently shows on the east face of Middle Teton. The Black Dike route is one of several popular ascents used by climbers scaling the peak.
Photo by Ann Mattson

Contact:
Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393
News Release Date: July 7, 2015

A large boulder struck and seriously injured a climber during a rockfall event today, July 7, in Grand Teton National Park. Michael Polmear, 27, of Bethesda, Maryland was ascending the Middle Teton near its black dike feature when a boulder—described by his wife, Stephanie, as "the size of 5-6 microwave ovens"—suddenly rolled down slope toward Polmear and hit his left arm causing severe injuries. Luckily, Polmear did not sustain additional injuries during the rockfall incident.
A previous park employee, who happened to be nearby, reported hearing the rockfall and a subsequent call for help at approximately 8:30 a.m. He immediately made his way to the rockfall site and began to help Stephanie Polmear stabilize her husband's injured arm. He placed an emergency call to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 9:00 a.m. that activated a rescue response by park rangers with aerial support from a Teton Interagency contract helicopter. At the request of Grand Teton's rescue coordinator, this first responder moved Polmear roughly 200 feet away from the accident site because of concern for additional rockfall activity.
Stephanie Polmear reported that she was belaying her husband, Michael, up the initial pitch of the Black Dike route on the Middle Teton, and he was approximately 30-35 meters above her when the boulder came crashing down the slope without warning. Fortunately, Stephanie was not hit by any of the debris during the rockfall. Although severely injured, Michael used his non-injured arm to create an anchor, and his wife was able to lower him by rope to her location.
Three park rangers were flown to a provisional helispot near the Cave Couloir at the base of the Middle Teton (approximately 600 linear feet, and 300 vertical feet from Polmear) at 10:00 a.m. Rangers provided emergency medical care, stabilized Polmear's injured arm,  and helped him traverse the distance to the waiting helicopter. Polmear, accompanied by one attending ranger, was flown to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at Lupine Meadows where he was then transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John's Medical Center. Once the helicopter cleared the mountain helispot, the other two rangers ascended from the accident site to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton to begin a scheduled backcountry patrol.
The cause of the sudden rockfall is undetermined. However, recent thunderstorms and a sequence of mountain showers may have loosened the boulder and nearby soils. It appears that Polmear was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when this natural event took place.