Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a helicopter-based rescue of a climber who was seriously injured while descending the Grand Teton. The rescue effort began at 4:16 p.m. Friday, August 19 when rangers received a call from a member of the injured climber’s party.
Evan Pack, 33, of Lehi, UT summited the Grand Teton and was beginning to descend the mountain when he lost his footing on a downclimb and fell approximately 20 feet. He suffered serious injuries requiring evacuation from near 13,770 foot summit.
As Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received the initial call for help, the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter was headed to Yellowstone National Park to assist an injured hiker on Avalanche Peak. Once that hiker was flown to safety, the helicopter returned to Grand Teton National Park and deposited two rangers who were on-board at the Lower Saddle below the Grand Teton.
Once configured for short-haul, the helicopter returned to the Lower Saddle and flew the rangers to the location of the accident. The rangers provided emergency medical assistance, prepared Pack for the short-haul flight, and loaded him into a rescue litter. One ranger then flew with Pack to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 7:04 p.m. Pack was transferred to an Air Idaho Rescue helicopter and flown to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, ID.
The other ranger assisted the remaining four members of Pack’s party with the descent from the Grand Teton to the Lower Saddle.
Grand Teton National Park will experience a Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21. The backcountry will remain open to climbers and hikers, though many areas are expected to see increased visitation. Rescue resources will be extremely limited, so appropriate skill level relevant to the climb or hike is essential to visitors’ safety. Overnight backcountry permits have all been distributed through the eclipse. Visitors must have a permit to spend the night in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park.
Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This 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.