MOOSE, WY- Grand Teton National Park rangers responded to multiple search and rescue calls in the backcountry this past weekend. Hikers and climbers attempting larger ascents are reminded to research their route and be knowledgeable of the skills required for their trip. It is imperative that hikers understand their own skills in order to prevent emergency situations for themselves and responders.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 9, Teton County Interagency Dispatch Center received notification of an emergency 9-1-1 text of an injured hiker in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. Nergui Enkhchineg, 28 year-old female from Mongolia working in the area, was hiking when she slipped on snow and fell approximately 50-100 feet on snow and rocks and sustained significant injuries. Another hiking party in the area assisted by using an emergency backcountry application on their cell phone to request assistance.
The search and rescue incident was initiated with waning daylight hours left. Using the coordinates generated by the emergency backcountry application, responders were able to immediately locate the injured party via the Teton Interagency Helicopter, allowing for quick medical assessment and treatment. The injured hiker was short hauled to Lupine Meadows and transported via park ambulance to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The other hiker walked out with a park ranger.
Other incidents that took place in the park this weekend involved a stranded individual on the Middle Teton on Sunday, August 11. The interagency helicopter conducted a reconnaissance flight as rangers initiated a rescue. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center was then notified that a private climbing party assisted the stranded hiker to safety. Park rescue personnel were not involved.
Additionally, late Sunday evening, park rangers responded to a visitor with a medical emergency at a backcountry campsite on Leigh Lake. Rangers transported the individual to the trailhead via a wheeled litter. A park ambulance transported the individual to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.
As good weather and conditions draw hikers and climbers into the backcountry, it is important to be prepared. Hikers and climbers should set a reasonable objective within the skills and experiences of the group. Consulting topographic maps, guidebooks, and park rangers will help parties gauge difficulty and skill level of the route before ascending. Desire to reach the summit during dangerous conditions is a hazard. Hikers should be prepared to alter their route if they do not feel confident about their skill level or if conditions worsen.
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.