Grand Teton rangers rescue lost snowboarders in Granite Canyon

A helicopter heads toward Garnet Canyon in this file photo from April 2011 taken during a search for two lost skiers in Grand Teton National Park. Two snowboarders were rescued Feb. 13 after mistakenly riding into Granite Canyon. (National Park Service photo by Jackie Skaggs — click to enlarge)

A helicopter heads toward Garnet Canyon in this file photo from April 2011 taken during a search for two lost skiers in Grand Teton National Park. Two snowboarders were rescued Feb. 13 after mistakenly riding into Granite Canyon. (National Park Service photo by Jackie Skaggs — click to enlarge)

From Staff Reports

Rangers from Grand Teton National Park rescued two snowboarders Monday night after the pair took a wrong turn and ended up in the park’s Granite Canyon area.

Snowboarders Joe Tauro, 55, from Brick, N.J. and Mike Fasciolli, 36, from Toms River, N.J. left through a ski area boundary gate at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort just before 3 p.m. Monday, according to information released from the Grand Teton National Park public affairs office.

The snowboarders told rangers at the time they planned to board in Rock Springs Bowl. But they instead mistakenly ended up in Grand Teton National Park via Granite Canyon.

Authorities said the two men were “not prepared for backcountry travel.”

Teton County Search and Rescue staff were able to locate the men through the GPS feature in a cell phone they had.

Grand Teton National Park rangers communicating directly by cell phone with the men after 7:30 p.m. determined that they needed assistance based on their inadequate preparation for backcountry travel and an unspecified medical condition one of the men had.

Rangers used a snowmobile to access the mouth of Granite Canyon and reached the pair in the lower canyon by about 10 p.m. For emergency responses, rangers maintain a winter snowmobile trail that runs from the Moose-Wilson Road to the mouth of Granite Canyon. Jackson Hole ski patrollers were preparing to ski into the canyon from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort when the two were found.

The snowboarders were not injured or in need of medical aid, according to authorities, but they lacked winter backcountry experience and had no food, water, lights or avalanche gear.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center reported general avalanche hazard for February 13 to be “moderate” above 9,000 feet and “low” for elevations of 6,000-7,500 feet.

Rangers advise backcountry travelers to be prepared to spend more time in the elements than anticipated by bringing extra clothing, high-energy snacks and water. Skiers and snowboarders should consider their physical limitations and time restrictions when choosing a destination, and bring a map of the area and know how to use it before setting out.

Park rangers also remind backcountry users to pay special attention to avalanche and weather conditions before entering remote areas outside of ski area boundaries.

The rescue was the first by Teton rangers during the 2011-12 winter season.

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