Rangers Assist with Rescue of a Hiker in the Wind River Range

July 16, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers assisted with the rescue of an injured hiker from the upper and lower Ross Lakes area in Wyoming’s Wind River Range on July 14. Rangers responded to help with the evacuation of the injured man at the request of Fremont County Search and Rescue. Four rangers, along with a Teton interagency contract helicopter and pilot, completed their mission at about 1:30 on Wednesday afternoon.

During the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 13, a hiker in the Wind River Range sustained a serious leg injury and was unable to continue hiking out of the remote backcountry area. The man’s father and another hiking partner splinted his injured leg and hiked out to summon help. Late that afternoon, members of a Fremont County Search and Rescue team hiked into the Ross Lakes area, administered emergency medical care, and evaluated options for rescue. Due to the remoteness and complexity of the terrain, rescue personnel determined that an aerial evacuation would be necessary, so they initiated a call for assistance from Grand Teton rangers. Coincidently, a Teton interagency contract helicopter was grounded at the Lander Airport because of high afternoon winds, so a ship was available, but not able to fly. As a consequence, the Fremont County rescue team spent the night in the backcountry with the injured man and made plans for a helicopter extrication the following day.

On the morning of July 14, four Grand Teton rangers drove to the Dubois Airport to rendezvous with the interagency ship and begin a helicopter-assisted rescue mission. One ranger was inserted via short-haul near the injured hiker, and he placed the patient into an evacuation suit for an aerial lift to a more appropriate landing spot. The park ranger flew in tandem with the hiker to a landing spot where the injured man could then be placed inside the aircraft for a longer flight to the Whiskey Basin trailhead and a waiting ambulance. The helicopter returned to the backcountry location to pick up the other three rangers and return them to the Dubois Airport.

“We readily respond to mutual aid requests from other federal and state agencies across the region, and the expertise and training of our park rangers is definitely an asset that we are willing to share whenever circumstances arise—such as this Wind River rescue,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “Our rangers were glad to be of service for this rescue mission, and we all hope that the hiker has a speedy recovery.”