By Ruffin Prevost
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK — With just minutes until the day’s last rays of light faded Saturday, Grand Teton National Park rangers used a helicopter to transport an imperiled climber to a landing zone near Lupine Meadows.
Full details were not immediately available from park officials about the incident, but search and rescue personnel successfully completed a rescue operation at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The climber had been on or near 12,325-foot Teewinot Mountain, according to Ranger Chris Valdez, who briefed Yellowstone Gate on rescue operations at the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache.
Valdez said rescue personnel were still wrapping up work from the operation and could not provide complete details, but he confirmed that the rescue did not involve a fatality, and that the climber would likely be transported from the landing site for additional medical care. He also confirmed that the helicopter rescue crew used the short-haul technique to rescue the climber.
In short-haul helicopter rescues, the subject is suspended below the helicopter on a rope approximately 150 feet long. The 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.
Patients are typically flown out via short-haul with a ranger attending to them below the helicopter. They are often transported by ambulance to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further medical treatment. An ambulance was at the landing site Saturday.
Four people have died in the Teton Range backcountry so far this year, and several search and rescue operations have already been carried out.
Last month, climber Eric Tietze, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah fell approximately 1,000 feet to his death while attempting to complete a climb of the Cathedral Traverse. Tietze had separated from his partners as they were completing the final rappels off of a shoulder peak west of Teewinot Mountain.
Valdez said additional details would be released later by park public affairs officers.
Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].