Injured Climber Evacuated by Helicopter from Teewinot Mountain

June 24, 2008
Grand Teton National Park rangers and an interagency contract helicopter evacuated an injured 16-year-old girl from Teewinot Mountain on Tuesday, June 24, at 2:15 p.m. The young woman, from New Mexico and visiting Jackson Hole with her family, slipped on snow and tumbled about 100 meters near the Worshipper and the Idol (elevation 11,000 ft.) while descending the east face of Teewinot with two other climbers. She suffered injuries to her hip, elbow and ankle during the fall as well as lacerations on her forehead and hands. She was wearing crampons and a helmet at the time of the fall; she was also carrying an ice axe.

An Exum guide, who was taking a client up the mountain, first made contact with the injured girl at approximately 10:15 a.m. The guide stabilized her, provided emergency medical assistance, and contacted park rangers for assistance. Due to the nature of the injuries, the location of the accident, the difficult terrain, and the prolonged time an evacuation by foot would take, rangers made the decision to evacuate the injured climber by helicopter.

Two park rangers were flown from Lupine Meadows and inserted by the short-haul method to the injured party’s location on Teewinot; a third ranger was then inserted with medical equipment and a rescue litter. When there is no suitable spot to land a helicopter, the short-haul method is used to place rescue personnel, who are suspended below the helicopter by a rope, into a location near the patient; the injured person is then secured into either an evacuation suit or a rescue litter to be airlifted for a short flight to another landing spot where the ship can safely touch down. In this case, rangers provided medical care to the patient and placed her into a rescue litter. She was then flown in tandem with an attending ranger to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache on the valley floor at 2:15 p.m., where a waiting park ambulance transported her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further medical care.

This marks the first major search and rescue operation in Grand Teton National Park this summer.