Climber dies after falling into icy water on descent from Grand Teton

A search and rescue helicopter lands at the Jenny Lake rescue cache near Lupine Meadows in Grand Teton National Park on Saturday after completing a short-haul extraction of an imperiled climber from the Teewinot Mountain area. (Yellowstone Gate/Ruffin Prevost - click to enlarge)

A search and rescue helicopter lands at the Jenny Lake rescue cache near Lupine Meadows in Grand Teton National Park in a 2012 file photo of a short-haul extraction of an imperiled climber from the Teewinot Mountain area. (Yellowstone Gate/Ruffin Prevost )

From Staff Reports

A Colorado man died Thursday after falling into icy water during his descent from a successful climb to the summit of Grand Teton in Grand Teton National Park.

Gary Miller, 55, from Colorado Springs, Colo. was descending from the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton on Thursday afternoon when he slipped on snow and slid into a pool of icy water in the North Fork of Garnet Canyon.

Miller was guided on the climb by one of the park’s authorized concessioners, according to a statement released by the Grand Teton public affairs office.

Climbing guides were able to remove Miller from the water while they waited for rangers to arrive at the site.

Six rangers were flown by helicopter to a temporary landing zone near Miller’s location in Garnet Canyon. Rescuers raised Miller to a site where he could be flown in a rescue litter to Lupine Meadows.

Rescuers used the short-haul method, where the subject is strapped into a stretcher and suspended by a line below the helicopter, with a ranger attending the subject at the end of the line.

Rescuers were met at Lupine Meadows by a team of park medical providers waiting to fly Miller to Idaho Falls, but he was pronounced dead at 8:35 p.m. at the Lupine Meadows site.

Park officials have not released additional details about the incident pending completion of an investigation.

Grand Teton rangers also assisted with another incident in nearby Buffalo Valley in which Jackson Hole Fire/EMS asked for assistance in response to a man suffering a heart attack.  A park ambulance and six rangers assisted, but the 56-year-old man, whose name was not released by park officials, was pronounced dead after nearly an hour of resuscitation efforts.

Grand Teton rangers handled a third call as well on Thursday, successfully rescuing a Wyoming man who fell while climbing Mount Owen, a peak nearly 13,000 feet high.

Jeff Judkins, 38, of Lander, Wyo. and his climbing partner were on an ascent of the Crescent Arête, an 11,200-foot section of the mountain described by park officials as a technically difficult route that is rarely climbed.

A large rock broke free as Judkins was pushing himself onto it and he fell about 15 feet before striking a sloping ledge below and falling another five feet before his climbing protection caught him. Neither Judkins nor his partner was struck by the rock as it broke free.

Two park rangers were inserted via short-haul to a nearby ledge just before 5 p.m. and they prepared the two climbers for short-haul extrication from the accident site to Lupine Meadows. The rescue was completed at 5:15 p.m.

Additional details on Judkins’ condition were not immediately available.

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or info@yellowstonegate.com.

2 thoughts on “Climber dies after falling into icy water on descent from Grand Teton

  1. Was cause the of death of Gary Miller ever reported?

    • I haven’t seen anything, but the coroner usually doesn’t send stuff like that out. Is it something I should track down?
      -RP