Rangers Recover Body of University Student in Garnet Canyon

Middle Teton as seen from Garnet Canyon, looking west

July 23, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers are investigating the death of a young University of Michigan student, who apparently fell 80 feet after summiting the 12,804-foot Middle Teton on Tuesday evening, July 20. Jillian Drow, age 21, of Chelsea, Michigan separated from her climbing partner as they descended the mountain. When Drow failed to return to a backcountry camp in Garnet Canyon, the group’s leader began to search for her. He discovered Drow, who was unresponsive and lifeless, at approximately 9 p.m.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a cell phone call from the University of Michigan group leader at 7:30 on Tuesday evening. He reported that a member of their party—a group of eight—was missing, and they were searching for her whereabouts. A second cell phone call was received at 9:03 p.m. reporting that Drow had been found, but not alive.

Because of the late hour and waning light, a helicopter flight was not possible. Therefore, four park rangers were dispatched to hike up to the Garnet Canyon campsite to begin a recovery operation; they arrived at 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 21. Six of the University of Michigan students hiked out of the canyon to the valley floor in the early hours of Wednesday morning, while park rangers remained with Drow and the group leader to make preparations for an aerial evacuation with daylight on Wednesday morning.

A Teton Interagency helicopter flew Drow and the group leader out at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, just a few hours before a severe lightning storm enveloped the Teton Range. The lightning storm injured 17 climbers on the 13,770-foot Grand Teton and a full-scale rescue mission was launched by park rangers to rescue and extricate the injured climbers in the aftermath of the Drow evacuation and severe storm event.

Park rangers will continue their investigation to circumstances surrounding Drow’s death. No further details are available at this time.