Critically Injured Hiker Rescued from the Ellingwood Couloir on Middle Teton

Rescuers place injured hiker aboard Air Idaho ship
for a flight to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

Teton Interagency contract helicopter lifts off enroute
to rescue Haymaker from Middle Teton.
July 29, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued a 20-year-old hiker, who took a tumbling 1,200-foot fall just after 10:30 a.m. on Friday,
July 29 and sustained critical injuries. Ryan Haymaker of Houston, Texas was glissading down the Ellingwood Couloir on the south side of the Middle Teton when he lost control and hit a rock causing him to flip over and continue head first down the couloir.

A bystander, who witnessed the fall and was nearby, called 911 to report the incident. The 911 call went to the sheriff’s office in Rexburg, Idaho, and they transferred the call to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 10:43 a.m. Three park rangers were flown by a Teton Interagency contract helicopter to a landing zone near Haymaker’s location at the bottom of the Ellingwood Couloir. A fourth ranger was flown to the scene shortly after the initial three, and the rangers provided emergency medical care before preparing Haymaker for a helicopter flight to the valley floor.

Haymaker was loaded into the ship and flown to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache, where he was met by a team of emergency medical providers led by Dr. Will Smith, one of the co-medical directors for Grand Teton National Park. Haymaker was stabilized at the rescue cache, and then flown directly on an Air Idaho life flight to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) in Idaho Falls, Idaho at 1:40 p.m.

Haymaker and his companion had glissaded about one-third of the way down the couloir when the incident occurred. Haymaker was glissading behind his companion when he picked up speed and passed him; shortly after, he hit the first series of rocks. Haymaker did not have a helmet at the time of the incident. Although he was carrying an ice axe and wearing crampons, he was unable to right himself or self arrest.

While Haymaker is from Houston, he has been working seasonally in Jackson Hole.

Rangers remind visitors that snow persists above 9,000 feet. Backcountry users should be in good physical condition and stick to hikes and routes that are within their ability and comfort levels. Appropriate equipment, and the knowledge of how to use it, are essential for a safe trip. Hikers, climbers, and skiers should also note that most accidents involve slips on snow or ice and most often occur on the descent at the end of the day.

Backcountry users are advised to stop in or call a visitor center or ranger station on the day of travel to obtain the most current rail, route and snow conditions.

Summer Speaker Series Continues

July 29, 2011
A series of special presentations that began in June will continue throughout the month of August in the new auditorium at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Starting Wednesday, August 3, local residents and park visitors can join a captivating group of speakers to learn about western culture and folk music, climate change and Teton weather, as well as the intriguing story of Sacajawea. All talks are free to the public.

Lectures will be presented by various experts who will share their knowledge and perspectives on a range of topics. The speakers will also lead discussions about Grand Teton National Park’s natural and cultural resources. The scheduled August lectures include: 

August 9 – 6:30 p.m.
Lead Poisoning in Wildlife & Non-Lead Program
Join Bryan Bedrosian, avian program manager with Craighead Berengia South, for a discussion about his research related to the presence of lead in the environment from hunting and fishing activities and how that affects wildlife. Bryan worked for Teton Science Schools before volunteering for Berengia South to conduct studies on raptors and ravens. His research data indicates that lead levels in the blood of bald eagles, ravens and other scavengers elevates during the fall hunting period. As a result of his study, a non-lead program was begun.

August 17 – 6:30 p.m.
Climate Change: Observed Trends and Future Impacts on North American Climate & Weather
Join National Weather Service Meteorologist Arthur Meunier for a presentation about large-scale changes in weather and observed climate trends. Meunier will describe how global changes may affect or influence the plants, animals and other resources in Grand Teton National Park, and across the State of Wyoming and the Intermountain West. A discussion will follow on climate change, mitigation strategies and effectiveness.

August 22 – 6:30 p.m.
Listen to author and storyteller Ken Thomasma as he recounts the fascinating tale of Sacajawea, the fifteen-year-old Shoshone woman and wife of a French-Canadian fur trader, who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition of 1804 –1806. Thomasma has been an educator for over 44 years and is the three-time winner of the Wyoming State Children's Book Award. He is the author of several books about remarkable Indian children, and regularly captivates audiences with his wealth of historical knowledge.

August 24 – 6:30 p.m.
Local Folk Music and Western Culture
Listen to local musician and school teacher Dan Thomasma as he shares his knowledge of folk songs and the creative process of making music. Thomasma has been writing original songs for decades and creating a local following in Wyoming and across the country. His love for Grand Teton and western history radiates through his music, especially through original songs such as Teton Waltz. Thomasma will share both his music and his knowledge of the western culture that exists in Jackson Hole, often coined the ‘Last of the Old West.’

August 30 – 6:30 p.m.
Teton Weather
Attend a presentation by National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Jones who will bring to life how the unique topography of Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole influences weather patterns. Through a multimedia presentation designed to explain the "whys" behind Grand Teton's weather, Jones will talk about water, wind, lightning, fire and how they all play a role in shaping the landscape.

For more information about the lecture series, call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594, or the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399.

Grand Teton NP Clarifies Supt's Compendium for Wildlife Protection & Public Safety

Bear #610  has twice charged people
while they were standing on their car roof.

Two small cubs race between cars to follow their mother,
who moments before squeezed through parked cars.

Bears are often forced to weave through crowded areas
with cars and people as they try to cross park roads.
July 27, 2011
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott today authorized a clarification of the 2011 Superintendent’s Compendium to more clearly describe regulations for safe wildlife viewing and allowable distances between visitors and wildlife. The clarification was prompted by the increased size and complexity of “wildlife jams” associated with the presence of grizzly bears near park roadways.

A long-standing provision of the compendium required that visitors keep a specified distance from wildlife. This historic provision was based upon determinations by previous superintendents that such limitations were necessary for the protection of wildlife and the safety of visitors. The allowable distance between visitors and wildlife has been defined as 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from other animals, including nesting birds. The current compendium maintains those distances, but provides improved clarity to the rule by eliminating language that was ambiguous or unclear. The compendium now states, “The following activities
are prohibited:
a)   Willfully approaching, remaining, viewing, or engaging in any activity within 100 yards of bears or wolves, or within 25 yards of any other wildlife including nesting birds; or within any distance that disturbs, displaces or otherwise interferes with the free unimpeded movement of wildlife, or creates or contributes to a potentially hazardous condition or situation.
b)   Failure to remove one’s self to prescribed distances during inadvertent, accidental, casual or surprise encounters with wildlife.
c)   Failure to comply as directed by NPS staff (employees, volunteers, or agents) engaged in administering wildlife management operations or managing wildlife viewing opportunities.”

The appearance this year of grizzly bears #399 and #610 and their collective five cubs creates unprecedented opportunities for park visitors to view superb wildlife; these opportunities also increase appreciation for animals and national park values. At the same time, the tremendous interest in viewing these bears and other wildlife has resulted in large wildlife jams and caused situations where the well being of both visitors and animals may be in jeopardy. Wildlife viewing opportunities—and wildlife jams in particular—can be very fluid situations due to the unpredictable behavior and movement of animals, the ebb and flow of traffic, and other factors. After a bear charged two different vehicles on two separate occasions while people stood on their car roof, park managers recognized the need to more strictly enforce the established regulations for wildlife viewing to better secure the protection of animals and ensure visitor safety.

While Grand Teton provides remarkable opportunities for visitors to experience and enjoy wildlife and other resources, park managers must also establish conditions that allow sufficient and appropriate space in which individual animals can move unencumbered as they search for food and other critical needs.

Rare Grizzly Bear Cub Exchange Observed

Grizzly bear #610 watches as one of her cubs climbs a tree.
Photo by Gary Pollock
July 25, 2011
Grand Teton National Park biologists report that an interesting turn of events occurred late last week when two female grizzly bears apparently “exchanged” one cub with one another. The two female grizzlies are related (mother and daughter), and have occupied overlapping home ranges since they both emerged from hibernation with their newborn cubs this past spring. The adoption or fostering of cubs between two female bears is rare, but not unprecedented. This behavior was documented in an article written by Mark A. Haroldson, Kerry A. Gunther, and Travis Wyman in a Yellowstone Science 2008 publication.

Fifteen-year-old grizzly bear #399 (a research number assigned to her in 2001) gave birth to three cubs during hibernation this past winter. Over the spring and summer months, she has traveled with her trio of cubs throughout a home range that she has occupied for several years. Five-year-old grizzly bear #610, born to #399 in 2006, also gave birth to two cubs of her own this year. These two female grizzly bears were previously radio-collared as part of a decades-long research study conducted by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Bear #399 last wore a collar in 2006 and #610 shed her collar in 2010. Colored ear-tags remain on the bears, providing continued identification in the field.

The apparent adoption of a single cub occurred on or about July 21; the noteworthy event was confirmed by observations of  #610 traveling with three cubs in the Willow Flats area of Grand Teton National Park, and later observations of  #399 with just two cubs in an area further north of Willow Flats.

Biologists are not sure what caused the exchange of offspring, or whether this will be a temporary or permanent situation. However, these observations offer a fascinating glimpse into bear behavior. Scientists speculate that cub adoption in bears is an adaptive behavior that increases cub survival when they become separated from their mothers as a result of conflicts with other bears, the death of a mother, or other disruptive events.

The two female grizzly bears and their respective cubs have lingered near park roads over several months time, allowing visitors and local residents an exceptional opportunity to view wild bears in their natural environment.

Park managers remind wildlife watchers that all park bears are wild and unpredictable. For the protection of bears and for the safety of visitors, federal regulations require people to remain at least 100 yards (the length of a football field) from bears at all times. 

Grand Teton National Park to Present Artwork from Harrison Crandall's Private Archive

July 15, 2011
Grand Teton National Park will host a special lecture by Dr. Ken Barrick titled, “Harrison Crandall: Historic Images from the Personal Archives of the Official Grand Teton National Park Photographer” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20 in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center auditorium. This program is free and open to the public.

Harrison R. Crandall was the first official Grand Teton National Park photographer and served as a resident artist from the 1920s until the 1960s. Selected historic photographs from the Crandall private archive will be presented to the public for the first time, including iconic views of the Grand Teton landscape, cowgirls and cowboys, and American Indians.

These historic extraordinary images were selected from more than 1,100 Crandall negatives that are being graciously gifted to the Grand Teton National Park archives by Harrison’s daughter and son-in-law, Quita and Herb Pownall. Please join the Pownalls and park staff in celebration of the first showing of these rare and historically important photographs.

Barrick, an associate professor of geography at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, has been doing research in the Rocky Mountains for 25 years, including studies in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. For nearly 10 years, Barrick has done extensive research on Harrison Crandall’s contributions to the art of national parks.

Harrison “Hank” Crandall homesteaded in Jackson Hole in 1922. He was a fine-art painter, photographer, early concessionaire and fervent supporter of Grand Teton National Park until his death in 1970. In fact, he was the first resident artist in the valley and ran two Crandall Studios for decades: one at Jenny Lake (now the Jenny Lake Visitor Center) and the other at the former town of Moran near the shore of Jackson Lake. Crandall is best known for his landscape photos and oil paintings of the Teton Range, hand-painted wildflower photographs, and images of ranch life in Jackson Hole—including cowboys and cowgirls.

Rangers Extinguish RV Fire at Park Campground

July 8, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers, with the help of Jackson Hole Fire/EMS, extinguished a sizeable fire in a 30-foot motor coach at the Colter Bay RV Park on the evening of July 7. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received notification of the fire at 9:30 p.m., and a ranger reached the campsite just two minutes later. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The occupants of the motor home, a couple from Cincinnati, Ohio, were watching TV when they noticed smoke and quickly evacuated the vehicle. A bystander, who also noticed the smoke, called 911 to report the fire. Other nearby campers began to use water hoses to help douse the flames until structural firefighters could arrive. When the first ranger arrived at the campsite, flames were visible through the recreational vehicle’s windows and heavy smoke was seeping outside. Eventually the flames began to emerge though the roof and air conditioning unit.

Engine 2 from Grand Teton arrived on scene just as the motor coach became fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters on the engine were able to suppress and contain the fire to the motor home. They were able to eventually enter the motor coach to extinguish the flames inside. Teton County Engine 42 and Tender 47 responded from Station 4 in Moran and Battalion 3 from Jackson also responded. About 15 personnel were involved in the structural fire operation.

There were no injuries; however, the motor coach sustained substantial damage and a domestic cat was trapped inside.

Temp Closure of Moose-Wilson Road on July 13

July 8, 2011
A brief travel closure will be in effect on the unpaved section of the Moose-Wilson Road within Grand Teton National Park for about 28 hours, beginning at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, July 13. The road is scheduled to reopen by 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 14, barring equipment malfunction or rainy weather. The temporary closure is scheduled to accommodate dust abatement work; this is the second application this summer.

Road crews will complete this project in the shortest time possible.
Local residents and park visitors are advised to plan ahead and use an alternate route because this temporary closure prevents the ability to make a ‘through trip’ on the Moose-Wilson Road.

For those wishing to reach the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve or Death Canyon trailhead, access will be possible by driving south from the junction with the Teton Park Road near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.

To alert travelers of the expected daytime road closure, electronic signs will be placed on Wyoming Highway 390, beginning Tuesday, July 12. For motorists heading south to Teton Village from Moose, signs will also be placed at the junction of the Teton Park Road.

The product used for dust abatement is a slurry of magnesium chloride—the same product that is used to treat dirt roads in and around Jackson Hole. This product coats the road surface, but it can also adhere to the undercarriage of vehicles. Therefore, motorists who drive this portion of the Moose-Wilson Road after it reopens on Thursday may want to rinse off their vehicles to eliminate any residue.

Roadwork schedules may change, or be delayed, due to weather conditions, equipment malfunction, or other extenuating circumstances.

Park Supports Bear Spray Recycle Program

July 5, 2011
Grand Teton National Park is proud to announce its participation in a new sustainability effort that recycles a specialized item commonly used in bear country: bear spray. In coordination, with other federal partners at Yellowstone National Park, the National Elk Refuge and surrounding national forests, Grand Teton recently placed collection bins at several locations to gather unwanted bear spray canisters and prepare them for recycling.   

Millions of people visit  the Greater Yellowstone Area each year, and thousands of bear spray canisters—used and unused—are disposed of in trash containers because they are not allowed on commercial flights, or visitors no longer have a need for the spray after they leave the area. These bear spray canisters enter the waste stream, causing a serious environmental concern. In addition, waste disposal workers are exposed to accidental discharge of pepper-laced propellant at disposal sites. To correct this problem, a new recycling center was established this year in Yellowstone.

The effort to curb the growing number of bear spray canisters in landfills emerged two years ago, when Yellowstone park managers and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality agreed that a recycling project could resolve this issue. The solution came from three Montana State University (MSU) engineering students who designed a machine that removes the pepper oil and propellant before it crushes the canister. The recycling unit is able to extract all contents through a filtering process that safely separates the ingredients. The empty canisters are then punctured, flattened and sold to any recycling center as high quality aluminum.

Using the principles that were developed by the MSU students, a Montana-based manufacturing firm produced the first-of-its-kind canister recycling unit. The recycling unit, located at Mammoth in Yellowstone, began operating this spring. To fund manufacture of the specialized unit, donations were secured from the Greater Yellowstone Area business community.

"As National Park Service employees, we have a responsibility to be on the forefront of sustainable environmental practices, and we’re proud to join our federal partners in this recycling effort: an effort that has positive impacts across the Greater Yellowstone Area,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “Grand Teton park personnel will take the lead in transporting canisters from collection sites within the greater Jackson area to the specialized recycling unit located in Yellowstone.”

Collection sites within Grand Teton National Park include: Colter Bay Visitor Center, Colter Bay Cabins, Jackson Lake Lodge, Jenny Lake Ranger Station, Jenny Lake Visitor Center, Gros Ventre Campground, Signal Mountain Lodge, and the Craig Thomas Discovery Visitor Center. Collection sites are also located at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center at the National Elk Refuge and Teton County Recycling at 3270 South Adams Canyon Road. In addition, collection sites are located at several private businesses, and at the Jackson Hole Airport beginning July 15.

Yellowstone is accepting bear spray canisters at most hotels, stores and at all park entrances.

Seriously Injured Skier Rescued from the Ellingwood Couloir

July 3, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a short-haul operation for a 33 year-old skier, who took a tumbling 800 foot fall just after 10 a.m. on Saturday, July, 2. Ryan Redmond of Delafield, Wisconsin was skiing down the Ellingwood Couloir (11,500 ft) on the south side of the Middle Teton when he lost control and slid down the gully. Rangers believe snow conditions were a contributing factor in this accident.

A member of Redmond’s party called the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 10:15 a.m. Two rangers who were approaching the summit of Nez Perce were diverted at 10:30 a.m. and headed down to Redmond’s location. They reached him at 12:30 p.m. and provided emergency medical care.

A Teton Interagency helicopter was summoned from Cody, Wyoming where it was doing work under its interagency contract. Another ranger was flown in the helicopter to a landing zone near the accident site and helped prepare Redmond for a short-haul evacuation in a litter to Lupine Meadows.

At the Lupine Meadow’s rescue cache, Redmond was met by a team of emergency medial providers led by Dr. Will Smith, one of the co-medical director’s for Grand Teton National Park. Redmond was stabilized at the rescue cache, and then flown directly to Eastern Idaho Regional Medial Center (EIRMC) at 2:45 p.m. on an Air Idaho life flight.

Redmond was telemark skiing in a group with three other skiers. Redmond and one of his companions stopped about two-thirds of the way up and two others continued to the top of the couloir. Redmond was the first to begin skiing and had just initiated his descent when he lost control and fell.

Redmond was wearing a climbing helmet and had an ice axe attached to his ski pole, but he was unable to self arrest on the firm snow. All members of his party used ice axes and crampons to climb up the Ellingwood Couloir. Redmond has ties to the valley.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain. Patients are typically flown out via short-haul with a ranger attending to them below the helicopter, as was the case for this rescue.

Rangers remind backcountry users that dangerous and variable snow conditions persist above 8,500 feet. Users are advised to stop in or call a visitor center or ranger station on the day of travel to obtain the most current trail, route and snow conditions. Hikers, climbers, and skiers should also note that most accidents involve slips on snow, and most occur on the descent at the end of the day.