March 3, 2009
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott invites the public to a free program on the history of search and rescue operations in the Teton Range given by Renny Jackson, Jenny Lake subdistrict ranger. Jackson will provide a personal, 30-year retrospective of rescue missions on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in the Cook Auditorium at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, two miles north of Jackson, Wyoming.
Over the past five decades, rescue operations conducted by Grand Teton National Park rangers have involved some difficult and complex situations. From one of the earliest rescue missions conducted in the Teton Range on Thanksgiving Day of 1950, when a DC-3 plane crashed into Mount Moran, killing 21 people, to a 2003 rescue operation where six climbers were hit by lightning on the Grand Teton, requiring an intricate and well-coordinated helicopter evacuation, and the most recent tragic incident in 2008 when a Helena, Montana resident died in fall on the south side of Gilkey Tower, skilled and highly-trained rangers have responded to assist injured people in the alpine and backcountry areas of the park.
Jackson plans to present an overview of the evolution of mountain rescues by recounting three different rescues on the North Face of the Grand Teton from 1967, 1980 and 2002. Through the lens of these incidents, Jackson will focus on the story of how mountain rescue operations have changed over time.
Jackson has served as a climbing ranger at Grand Teton National Park for the past 30 years and he will share a wealth of knowledge and personal experience about the progression of mountain rescue in the Teton Range and beyond. He just recently returned from a month-long trip to the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal where he participated in an international clinic near Mt. Everest, instructing Sherpas and other local climbers about mountain rescue techniques. Jackson has received the Department of the Interior’s Medal of Valor Award on three separate occasions for the critical part that he played in technical rescue missions in the Teton Range and on Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park. He also just received a 2008 Stewardship Award from the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Jackson’s retrospective on mountain rescue also highlights Grand Teton National Park’s 80th anniversary — the park was established on February 26, 1929. In tribute to the park’s milestone anniversary, birthday cake will be served after the program.