NPS Digest is reporting that rangers in Grand Teton National Park conducted their first backcountry search and rescue operation of the 2011/12 winter season on Monday night.
Joe Tauro, 55, and Mike Fasciolli, 36, both from New Jersey, left the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort just before 3 p.m. on Monday. Their plan was to go to the Rock Springs Bowl, but they went the wrong way and ended up in Granite Canyon inside the park instead.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Ski Patrol first received notification that they needed help around 7 p.m. Teton County Search and Rescue was notified, and members of that team were able to ping the GPS location of the pair from their cell phone and determine that they were in the park’s backcountry. The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center was notified of the out-of-bounds boarders at 7:30 p.m. Rangers were able to communicate directly with the duo via cell phone and determine that a search and rescue response was needed based on a medical condition of one of the two men, combined with their inadequate preparation for backcountry travel.
Rangers used a snowmobile to access the mouth of Granite Canyon and reached the pair around 10 p.m. at a location in the lower canyon. Although the snowboarders were not injured or in need of medical aid, they lacked winter backcountry experience and did not possess food, water, lights or the appropriate avalanche gear.
The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center reported the general avalanche hazard for February 13th to be “moderate” above the 9,000 foot level and “low” for low elevations (6,000-7,500 feet). Backcountry users were also cautioned to be prepared with appropriate emergency equipment and the knowledge and skill of how to use such gear before attempting a winter excursion.
Hiking in Glacier.com