Injured Climber Rescued from Upper Saddle of Grand Teton

August 8, 2008
An injured climber was evacuated by helicopter from the Grand Teton on Thursday afternoon, August 7, in Grand Teton National Park. Merry Carny, age 46, of Salt Lake City, Utah sustained multiple broken bones after landing hard during a rappel from a cliff near the Upper Saddle of the Grand Teton. Carny and her husband had successfully reached the summit and were on their way down when the accident occurred; neither climber was wearing a helmet at the time.

The Carnys climbed the Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton on Thursday morning and reached the summit at 12:30 p.m. They were descending the standard rappel near the Upper Saddle when Merry was unable to maintain friction on her climbing rope and ultimately slid about 50 feet before coming to an abrupt stop on the slope below the rappel route. She landed on her feet, but fell backward after the abrupt landing. Carny received injuries to her leg, side and back, and was unable to continue climbing. The Carnys used their cell phone to report their situation; however, because of their location on the Grand Teton, the call was received by the Driggs, Idaho sheriff’s office. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received notice of the accident at 1:30 p.m., and park rangers immediately summoned an interagency contract helicopter to assist with the rescue effort.

Three park rangers were transported by the contract helicopter to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton, and one of those rangers was then inserted into the accident site via short-haul. Two additional rangers were flown by helicopter to the Lower Saddle along with necessary rescue equipment, and a second ranger was also inserted by short-haul into the accident site. Carny was given emergency medical care by the rangers and placed into a rescue litter for evacuation. She was then flown at 4:45 p.m.—with a ranger accompanying her—directly to the Jenny Lake rescue cache located on the valley floor. A park ambulance transported her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment of her injuries.

The remaining ranger accompanied Mr. Carny as he continued his descent from the Upper Saddle. Upon reaching the Lower Saddle, he too was flown by helicopter to the rescue cache to expedite his ability to join his wife at the hospital.

This marks the second major search and rescue operation in Grand Teton National Park in the past two days.