Grand Teton Park rangers rescue stranded climber from Middle Teton

A helicopter heads toward Garnet Canyon in April 2011 during a search for two lost skiers in Grand Teton National Park. (National Park Service file photo by Jackie Skaggs - click to enlarge)

A helicopter heads toward Garnet Canyon in April 2011 during a search for two lost skiers in Grand Teton National Park. (National Park Service file photo by Jackie Skaggs - click to enlarge)

From Staff Reports

MOOSE, WYO. — Grand Teton National Park rangers on Tuesday rescued a stranded climber on Middle Teton, using a helicopter to help remove him from a sheer rock face where he had become unable to advance his climb.

Eric Rohner, 27, of Olympia, Wash., began an attempted solo summit of the Middle Teton on Monday, but traveled off route and became “cliffed out,” unable to safely advance or retreat without risking injury, according to a statement released by the Grand Teton public affairs office.

Rohner used his cell phone to call 911 for help just after 1 a.m. Tuesday. A park ranger spoke with Rohner via cell phone and determined that he had enough food and water, as well as appropriate gear and extra clothing, to spend the night on the Middle Teton. Rescue operations began at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday as two rangers started hiking at first light.

They were not able to locate Rohner from the ground, and dispatched a Teton Interagency contract helicopter to find the climber.

During a 10:15 a.m. reconnaissance flight, rangers and the helicopter pilot decided the best rescue plan was to use the short-haul technique to remove Rohner from his precarious location to a landing zone in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. A short-haul rescue is one where the subject is suspended beneath a helicopter by a rope and extracted from difficult terrain.

Park officials said that once Rohner became stuck, he “made sound decisions,” including: staying put, calling for help and following rescuer instructions. Rohner also was prepared to spend an unexpected night on the mountain, having brought extra food, water and clothing.

The Middle Teton is viewed as having a relatively straightforward route to a high summit, park officials said. But they cautioned that climbers attempting the summit must have good route-finding skills, pay attention to where they are, and follow the directions of park rangers. Officials said rangers have had to perform numerous rescue operations on Middle Teton after climbers have attempted shortcuts or lost focus during their climbs.

Tuesday’s rescue was the third major search and rescue operation of the summer. Such rescues are costly and can be dangerous for those performing rescue operations.

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]

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