Injured backcountry skier rescued near Jackson Hole

Grand Teton National Park East Entrance sign. WyoToday photo by Ernie Over
Grand Teton National Park, Teton County Search and Rescue and JacksonHole Mountain Resort coordinated a successful rescue of a backcountry skier Wednesday.

At approximately 10:45 a.m. Teton County Dispatch received an
emergency call regarding an individual who was injured after a
substantial fall on the west side of Cody Peak, south of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Four individuals were hiking from the top of the tram at the Resort to backcountry ski when one of the individuals slipped on
firm snow and ice, falling approximately 1,000 feet. One of the
individuals called 911, and two members of the party plus two other individuals from a separate party, who happened to be emergency medical
technicians, descended to the injured member of the group.

Teton County Search and Rescue initiated a rescue response, including
their helicopter, and notified Grand Teton National Park for assistance.
Members of the mountain patrol staff from the Jackson Hole
Mountain Resort also assisted by skiing to the location of the injured

Though the accident site was determined to be inside the park
boundaries once rescuers located the scene, park and county search and rescue leaders determined that Teton County would maintain
command in the interest of efficiency. The county helicopter dropped off one rescuer on a nearby ridge who then skied to the patient and
determined that a short-haul extraction was appropriate.

The park short-haul team responded and the injured individual, 24-year-old Stephen Sherk from Jackson, Wyoming, was transported via short
haul and driven by county ambulance to St. John’s Medical Center
in Jackson.

The National Park Service, Teton County and Jackson Hole Mountain
Resort work and train collaboratively to respond to emergency
situations. It is through this professional partnership that successful
outcomes such as this rescue are possible.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is 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.