Grand Rescue is Reminder to Recreationists

By on August 19, 2017

During a recent short-haul rescue spotter Garth Wagner with Teton Helitack monitors a patient suspended by a 200-foot rope. (

JACKSON HOLE, WY – An injured climber was rescued off the Grand Teton Friday after he fell 20 feet near the mountain’s 13,770-foot summit. Evan Pack, 33, of Lehi, Utah, lost his footing while down-climbing the highest peak in Grand Teton National Park. He suffered serious injuries that prompted his evacuation.

The rescue—led by the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers via a short-haul operation where a person is suspended below a helicopter on a 150- to 250-foot rope—is a warning to recreationists. As crowds pour in to GTNP for the Great American Eclipse on Monday, rescue operations like Pack’s will place further strain on already maxed out park crews.

The park happens to be on the eclipse’s path of totality, making it a prime viewing locale.

It is not just the preeminent Jenny Lake Rangers, armed with a fierce mix of alpinism and medical training, involved in rescues. River and backcountry rangers, dispatch people, ambulance drivers all coalesce in response to park incidents. “I don’t know if anybody really realizes what a skilled, dynamic workforce we have here,” Denise Germann, GTNP spokersperson, told PJH.

Every park employee will be working in some capacity on Monday, slated to be the busiest day in park history. While officials are hesitant to speculate the number of visitors that will descend on the park, its normal numbers—up to 30,000 people visit GTNP on any given day in August—help feed the imagination.

“People need to be very cognizant of the resources available to respond to rescue incidents,” Germann said. “They will be extrememly limited so it’s really important folks have the appropriate skill level and equipment when they enter the backcountry.” Being prepared also means informing someone else of your plans, she added.

In the days leading up to the eclipse, Germann said the park has indeed seen increased visitation and a lot of “last-minute regional visitors” looking for overnight backcountry permits, which are all reserved through Monday.

When the call came in from Pack’s group around 4 p.m. Friday, rescuers were already on their way to aid another injured hiker on Avalanche Peak in Yellowstone National Park. Once that hiker was flown to safety, the helicopter returned to GTNP, leaving two rangers on the Grand Teton’s Lower Saddle.

After rangers prepared the helicopter for a short haul mission, which is often used in the Tetons because of the area’s steep and rocky terrain, a pilot flew the helicopter back to the Lower Saddle, picked up the rangers and took them to the location of the accident. The rangers provided Pack with emergency medical assistance and loaded him into a rescue litter.

One ranger flew with Pack to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 7:04 p.m., where he was transferred to an Air Idaho Rescue helicopter and flown to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

The rescue comes on the heels of another incident on the Grand Teton Tuesday involving two climbers. Mountaineers Nick Marucci, 30, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Laura Robertson, 23, of Orem, Utah, were attempting the Grand Traverse (scaling the summits of the 10 highest peaks in the Tetons) when they became “mentally and physically exhausted after five challenging days in the high mountains,” a GTNP press release noted. The duo also required a short-haul helicopter rescue.




About Robyn Vincent

Robyn is the editor of Planet Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. When she's not sweating deadlines, she likes to travel the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @TheNomadicHeart

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