Lightning Ignites Fires in Grand Teton NP & Bridger-Teton NF

August 29, 2011
More than 6,700 lightning strikes were recorded Friday, August 26, through early Monday morning, August 29, in Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and the surrounding area. Numerous strikes ignited at least three new fires in the park and four new fires on the forest. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received several smoke reports despite rain across much of the area on Sunday. Teton Interagency firefighters remain on alert for additional starts as weather conditions become breezy and drier.

On Friday afternoon, fire crews suppressed a lightning-ignited fire in Grand Teton National Park. The Preserve Fire began near the Moose-Wilson Road on the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve and firefighters suppressed it at one tenth of an acre. Fire crews also worked to extinguish the Murphy Fire on the Grey’s River Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Visitors discovered that fire and attempted to put it out before reporting it to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center.

Lightning from a sequence of storms on Saturday ignited an additional two new fires in Grand Teton National Park and three new fires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Fire crews will monitor the Rockchuck and Burned Ridge fires, both of which started in the park. The Rockchuck Fire lies northwest of Jenny Lake and is burning in a small stand of conifers on Rockchuck Peak, about 1,000 feet below the summit ridge. Because it ignited in rocky, steep terrain surrounded by sparse vegetation, it has limited potential to spread; however, smoke is occasionally visible from some park locations. The Burned Ridge fire began in the duff and needle litter at the base of a single tree. It lies at the southern end of the Potholes, about a half mile east of the Teton Park Road in an area where the natural process of fire is considered a management priority. Spread potential for this fire is also limited due to sparse vegetation.

Crews from wildland fire engine of the Big Piney Ranger District on the Bridger-Teton National Forest are suppressing the Lime Fire, which may be visible from U.S. Highway 89.  The Nowlin Fire, located in Nowlin Meadows within the Teton Wilderness on the Buffalo Ranger District, is 10 acres and burning in heavy dead timber with bug-killed trees. The tenth-acre Soda Fire is burning in similar fuels near the Nowlin Fire and began during the same storm. Fire managers flew these fires Sunday and will determine a management action plan.

Due to other fire activity in the area, the wildland engine crew from Moose suppressed the single-tree, lightning-ignited Sheep Creek Fire in the Curtis Canyon area of the Jackson Ranger District.

For local fire information, log on to To report a fire call 307.739.3630.

Late Summer Cattle Drive to Cause Minor Traffic Delays near Moran Junction

Pinto Ranch wranglers drive cattle to summer
pastures at Elk Ranch on June 11, 2011.

August 23, 2011
Motorists may experience a minor travel delay along Highway 26/89/191 between Elk Ranch Flats and Moran Junction on Saturday morning, August 27. The temporary delay will take place between
8 a.m. and 9 a.m. to allow for the safe movement of cattle from the Elk Ranch summer pastures just south of Moran Junction to the Pinto Ranch in Buffalo Valley. Park rangers will provide traffic control during this cattle drive. 

Pinto Ranch wranglers will drive a herd of about 250 cattle eastward from the Elk Ranch area to the ranch using Highway 26/89/191 and then a right of way along Highway 26/287. When the cattle drive reaches a swampy area just south of Moran Junction, the animals will need to cross both this area and the Buffalo Fork Bridge via the roadway, which will cause a minor traffic delay of 15 to 20 minutes.

To avoid the temporary delay, local residents and park visitors may choose to travel an alternate route through Grand Teton National Park using the Teton Park Road between Jackson Lake and Moose junctions. Every effort will be made to minimize the inconvenience to travelers using Highway 26/89/191 near Moran Junction on Saturday morning.

Several years ago, Grand Teton officials requested that the Pinto Ranch shift their cattle from an historic, free-range Pacific Creek grazing allotment north of Moran to the fenced pastures at Elk Ranch Flats in order to minimize potential conflicts with predators in the Pacific Creek drainage. Saturday’s cattle drive will complete the summer grazing operation and return the cattle to the Pinto Ranch before September.

In accordance with the 1950 Grand Teton National Park enabling legislation, certain historic grazing privileges were retained. Since that time, the fenced and irrigated Elk Ranch pastures have been used for cattle grazing purposes.

Rangers Rescue Injured Climber from Death Canyon

August 21, 2011
In another operation pushing darkness—the second in as many nights—Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued a 25-year-old female who fell about 25 feet while climbing a popular route in Death Canyon called The Snaz. On Saturday, August 20, Lauren McLean from Lake Oswego, Oregon sustained significant injuries when she fell, because her belay system failed, and landed feet first on a ledge at the base of the last pitch.

A member of McLean’s climbing party notified Teton Interagency Dispatch Center of the incident at 4:50 p.m. via cell phone. Park rescue personnel immediately summoned a Teton Interagency contract helicopter to perform a reconnaissance flight to assess the situation. Due to McLean’s location, rangers devised two separate plans for McLean’s rescue; one option included spending the night with her on the cliff and the other option involved an evacuation before dark.

Two rangers were inserted via short-haul just above McLean’s location a little before 8 p.m. One ranger rappelled down to McLean and determined that it would be possible to fly her off the ledge that night. The ranger then stabilized McLean’s injuries and provided emergency medical care before preparing her for a short-haul flight in an aerial evacuation suit. McLean was flown from The Snaz to the historic White Grass Dude Ranch that sits just east of Death Canyon. A park ambulance met the helicopter in a meadow near the ranch buildings and transported McLean to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment. McLean was subsequently flown to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah for additional medical care.

McLean’s two climbing partners decided to hike out of Death Canyon on Saturday night. One ranger spent the night on a ledge of the cliff face in order to assist in flying off rescue equipment and other gear early Sunday morning.

The Snaz is one of the most popular climbs in Death Canyon, and is usually completed in nine pitches. It is rated a 5.9 on the Yosemite Decimal System, a set of numeric ratings describing the difficulty of climbs.

Climber Rescued from N. Ridge of Grand Teton

 Rangers used short-haul to rescue stranded climber from
Grand Stand area on the 13,770 foot Grand Teton.
Fading daylight & North Face of Grand Teton from
Teton Interagency helicopter cockpit. 
August 20, 2011
Just before dark on Friday August 19, Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued a 28-year-old climber after he became stranded near the top of the Grand Stand below the North Face of the Grand Teton. Jesse Selwyn of Florence, Montana and his climbing partner intended to climb the Black Ice Couloir on the northwest side of the Grand. Selwyn and his companion could not find the entrance to the Black Ice Couloir and got off route. They ended up on the Grand Stand instead.

At 4:55 p.m., the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received notification from the Teton County Sheriff’s office that an individual had activated a SPOT rescue locator somewhere on the Grand Teton. Rangers requested a Teton Interagency helicopter to conduct a reconnaissance flight to assess the situation. A ranger inside the helicopter used a white board with the words “OK?” written on it to ask the climbers if they were alright. The climbers gave a thumbs down sign, so rangers responded by writing the words “rescue?” and the climbers gave a thumbs up, indicating they were in trouble and needed help.

Based on the climbers’ location, rangers flew inside the helicopter to a landing zone on the west side of Teewinot Mountain. From there, one ranger was inserted via short-haul to Selwyn’s location just after 8 p.m. Once on scene, the ranger prepared Selwyn for a short-haul evacuation off the mountain to Lupine Meadows rescue cache on the valley floor. Selwyn was uninjured and released soon after landing. 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 and expedient access to an injured or stranded party; it is often used in the Tetons where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in high-elevation, steep and rocky terrain. Patients are typically flown out via short-haul below the ship with a ranger attending to them, as was the case for this rescue.

After rescuing Selwyn, the helicopter made one last flight to retrieve the other rangers from the landing zone on Teewinot. The ship landed back at Lupine Meadows at 8:47 p.m., just two minutes before it was required to stop flying due to darkness. This time is called the “pumpkin hour,” and is 30 minutes after official sunset.

By the time rangers reached Selwyn, his climbing partner had begun to backtrack the route in hopes of reaching the lower saddle before it got too dark to continue. After realizing it was too dark to safely backtrack across the Valhalla Traverse, Selwyn’s partner decided to spend the night on the mountain and begin his retreat again at first light on Saturday. The climbing partner reached the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton just before 8:30 a.m. on August 20.

This is the second time in a week that a stranded party has initiated a SPOT locater device in the area. The first came from a pilot who crashed his ultralight aircraft near Fox Creek Pass just outside of Grand Teton National Park in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. While these rescue devices can be valuable tools when used appropriately, rangers remind backcountry users that technical high-mountain rescue carries certain inherent risks for the rescuers and these devices should only be used in a true emergency.

Rangers remind backcountry users that they 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 and climbers are encouraged to stop in a visitor center or ranger station on the day of travel to obtain the most current trail, route and snow conditions.

Temp Closure of Moose-Wilson Road on Aug. 24

August 19, 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 5 a.m. on Wednesday, August 24. The road is scheduled to reopen by 8 a.m. on Thursday, August 25. The temporary closure is scheduled to accommodate dust abatement work; this is the third 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, August 23. 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.

Fire Danger Rating Elevated to High

August 19, 2011
On Thursday, August 18, Teton Interagency fire managers elevated the fire danger rating to “high” for both Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park. Dry vegetation—combined with seasonable temperatures, low humidity and afternoon winds—has increased the potential for fire activity.

When determining fire danger ratings, fire managers use several indices: the moisture content of grasses, shrubs and trees; the projected weather conditions (including temperatures and possible wind events); the ability of fire to spread after ignition; and the availability of firefighting resources across the country. A high fire danger rating means that fires can start easily and spread quickly.

Local residents and visitors alike should exercise an extra measure of caution and practice heightened fire safety at all times. Responsible steps include making sure that a campfire is thoroughly extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving a campsite.

Unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires. The fine for an abandoned campfire is $225, but campers can also be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire. Visitors should never leave a fire unattended, and always prepare for the unexpected by having a water bucket and shovel on hand.

This season in the Teton Interagency personnel have extinguished 52 unattended or abandoned campfires.

Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest have each had three fire starts this year. One of the fires ignited by sparks arching from a powerline after a tree fell against it, and another is suspected to be human caused because of its location in a developed area with no evidence of a lightning strike.

For more fire information, please visit the Web at or, or follow GrandTetonNPS or BridgerTetonNF on Twitter.

To report a fire or smoke in either area, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3630.

Rangers Rescue Ultralight Pilot after Crash Landing near Fox Creek Pass

August 18, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued the pilot of an ultralight aircraft Tuesday night, August 16, after he crashed his single seat aircraft between Spearhead Peak and Fox Creek Pass in the southern portion of the Teton Range. James Mauch, 57, of Louisville, Kentucky received only minor injuries during his crash landing.

After the accident, Mauch activated a locator beacon that sent an emergency signal to the Teton County Idaho sheriff’s office. The Idaho office routed a 911 call to Teton County Wyoming who then transferred the call to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center in Moose, Wyoming at 7 p.m.

Mauch began his flight from the Driggs, Idaho airport and crashed just on the boundary between Grand Teton National Park and Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Due to the accident location—involving multiple federal, county and state jurisdictions—Teton County Search and Rescue staff requested an agency assist from the park and coordinated with the park’s emergency responders to initiate the rescue. Because of the late hour, combined with the availability of a Teton Interagency contract helicopter and park rescue staff, Grand Teton National Park rangers took the lead on organizing and conducting the rescue operation from the Lupine Meadows rescue cache. In addition, a unified command center was established at the Teton Interagency Helibase located at the Jackson Hole Airport.

Two rangers flew aboard the Teton Interagency ship and quickly spotted Mauch at 8:23 p.m. in an open area near Fox Creek Pass, just north of Spearhead Peak. Because the terrain was broad and open, the helicopter was able to set down near Mauch, and rangers placed him on board the ship at 8:37 p.m. for a flight to the Teton Interagency Helibase. A waiting park ambulance then transported Mauch to St. John’s Medical Center for treatment.

Rangers were able to mobilize, perform and complete the rescue operation by 8:45 p.m., just before the official time when air operations must cease due to darkness; this is often called the “pumpkin hour.”

Teton Interagency Firefighters Suppress Fire at Colter Bay Area in Grand Teton NP

August 17, 2011

Teton Interagency firefighters suppressed a small fire yesterday afternoon, August 16, near the Colter Bay Tent Village in Grand Teton National Park. The cause of the fire is unknown, although
a thunderstorm recently passed through the Colter Bay area.

Teton Interagency fire officials received a report about the fire
at 3:55 p.m. on Tuesday from staff at the Colter Bay cabin office. Engine 4 and its crew responded and began suppression actions because of its location within a developed area. The fire was contained at less than a 10th of an acre and declared out
by 6:20 p.m.

This marks the third fire start this season in Grand Teton National Park. The first fire began on June 29, with a spark from a powerline near Pilgrim Creek. The second fire started from a lightning strike near Cow Lake, just east of Signal Mountain.

The current fire danger is listed as “moderate.” As of August 16, there have been 52 abandoned or unattended campfires discovered on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and in Grand Teton National Park.

With the arrival of the annual fire season, area residents and visitors are requested to report a fire or smoke by calling 307.739.3630.

For more fire information, please visit

Rangers Rescue Injured Climber from Nez Perce

Rangers & Teton Interagency Helitak staff conduct a technical
lowering operation to rescue injured climber near Nez Perce Peak.

August 11, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers performed a 1,200-foot technical lowering operation on the north side of Nez Perce Peak to rescue a 21-year-old climber who fell about 100 feet and suffered injuries that made it impossible for her to hike further. Laura Mason of Royal Oak, Michigan was glissading a snowfield to the west of the Hourglass Couloirs when she was unable to control her speed and ran into the rocks at the base of the snowfield.

Rangers, who were assisting another hiker with minor injuries, received notice of Mason’s accident at 11 a.m. Once they reunited the hiker with his party, they hastily made their way to Mason’s location on Nez Perce Peak and arrived on scene at 11:30 a.m. After reaching Mason, rangers determined that high winds were not favorable for a helicopter short-haul operation. Two other rangers on routine backcountry patrols (one on Disappointment Peak and another between the South and Middle Tetons) were summoned to assist with a ground-based rescue. An additional ranger and three Teton Interagency helitack personnel were flown up from the valley by the Teton Interagency contract helicopter into Garnet Canyon to also assist in the technical lowering operation.

Mason was placed in a rescue litter, and rangers rigged ropes to carefully lower her down the snowfield to the Garnet Canyon Meadows landing zone. Rangers lowered Mason 300 feet at a time in four separate sets. The last set placed her at a location near the landing zone at the Cave Couloir in the upper meadows of Garnet Canyon. From there, Mason was placed inside the helicopter for a short flight to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache where she was met by a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment.

Mason and her four climbing partners intended to summit the Middle Teton. Two of her partners turned around earlier in the day, while the rest of the group continued up but strayed off route. After realizing they were in the wrong location, Mason and her climbing partners started descending in an attempt to find the correct route. Although Mason was carrying an ice axe, rangers do not believe she was wearing a helmet or carrying crampons on her mountain trek.

This marks the third rescue this year involving a climber or hiker who received significant injuries while glissading down a snowfield. Rangers remind backcountry users that most accidents occur on snow or ice when people slip and fall, often into rocky terrain. Most backcountry accidents occur on the descent at the end of the day when people are tired and perhaps less attentive.

Local Resident Dies While Biking in Park

August 10, 2011

With great sadness, Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that Wilson, Wyoming resident Huntley Baldwin, 72, died while bicycling in Grand Teton National Park on Tuesday, August 9.  Mr. Baldwin was pronounced dead on scene by Dr. Will Smith, the park’s co-medical director, at 11:47 a.m.

“I know I speak for all of us in Grand Teton when I say that our heartfelt condolences go out to Joan and the Baldwin family for this sudden loss of Huntley,” said Superintendent Scott. “Many of us have been longtime fans of Huntley’s literary and artistic works. The loss of a beloved Jackson Hole resident who appreciated and supported this park is especially difficult.”

Baldwin, a well known local artist and author, was biking on the park’s multi-use pathway just north of the Cottonwood Creek Bridge when other bicyclists found him unresponsive and lying near the side of the pathway. One bicyclist placed a 911 call at 10:55 a.m. that was connected to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center. A page was immediately issued for park emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to respond; rangers arrived on scene at 11 a.m. and Medic 2, a park ambulance, arrived at 11:01 a.m.

Several rangers along with Dr. Smith were diverted from a search and rescue operation that was in progress at the Lupine Meadows rescue cache about four miles north. When rangers arrived on scene, Baldwin was in cardiac arrest and three visitors with emergency medical training had initiated CPR.

Twenty rangers from multiple park divisions including EMS, law enforcement, maintenance, and visitor services (fee collection)along with three bystandersworked for nearly an hour on resuscitative efforts and scene management, including traffic control.

“I personally witnessed the coordinated emergency response by park staff, and I want to commend the collective efforts of everyone involved, including the actions of the Good Samaritans who initiated CPR. The quick and skilled actions by each and every responder provided Huntley with the best possible care during a very difficult situation,” said Superintendent Scott.

Rangers Rescue Injured Climber from the Middle Teton

The Middle Teton, elevation 12,804 feet
August 9, 2011
A climber, attempting to scale the Middle Teton, required rescue by Grand Teton National Park rangers on Tuesday, August 9, after sustaining injuries from a fall. Steven Zaleski, 43, of Madison, Wisconsin and two companions were on the approach to the Buckingham Ridge, the southeast ridge of the Middle Teton, when Zaleski pulled off a loose block of rock and fell about 15 feet.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received an emergency phone call from a member of Zaleski’s climbing party at 9:08 a.m. A Teton Interagency contract helicopter flew rangers to a backcountry landing zone in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon, and the rangers then hiked to Zaleski’s location, arriving on scene at 11:10 a.m. Rangers determined that Zaleski would not be able to hike out of the canyon on his own due to the nature of his injuries, and they prepared him for a helicopter evacuation.

Rangers placed Zaleski in an aerial evacuation suite and flew him via short-haul to the South Fork landing zone. From there, Zaleski was loaded inside the ship for a short flight to Lupine Meadows rescue cache. An ambulance from Jackson Hole Fire and EMS transported Zaleski at 12:30 p.m. from the rescue cache to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment.

Due to the technical nature of the terrain, combined with significant rockfall in the area, rangers determined it would be safer to also fly Zaleski’s climbing partner off the ridge. The climber was also placed in an aerial evacuation suit and evacuated to the landing zone where he could then hike out of Garnet Canyon on his own.

Zaleski and his climbing companions were unroped on the approach and scrambling on fourth-class rock. Each of the climbers had appropriate climbing gear; they were all wearing helmets and carrying ice axes and crampons at the time of the accident. Zaleski, and his climbing partner who placed the emergency call, both have extensive climbing experience, including experience in the Teton Range.

Firefighters Suppress Cow Lake Fire

August 8, 2011
Teton Interagency firefighters suppressed a small lightning-caused fire in Grand Teton National Park on Sunday, August 7. The passage of a thunderstorm on Sunday afternoon ignited a single snag fire just south of Signal Mountain, near a small pothole pond called Cow Lake.

The Cow Lake Fire was initially reported by a visitor who saw the lightning strike and rising smoke around 2:30 p.m. from the top of Signal Mountain. Teton Interagency fire crews assigned to park-based engines, along with fire monitoring staff, pinpointed the fire and reached its location at 4 p.m.

As a naturally ignited fire burning in Grand Teton National Park’s conditional fire zone, the Cow Lake Fire was assessed for multiple management strategies. Based on guidelines in the park's Fire Management Plan, the decision was made to suppress the fire due to its proximity to telecommunication equipment and nearby lodging facilities.

The Cow Lake Fire was contained at one tenth of an acre around 6:30 p.m. and will be monitored until declared out.

Warmer temperatures and drying vegetation have prompted Teton Interagency fire officials to increase the fire danger rating to “Moderate.” A moderate rating means that fires in open cured grasslands will burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days, and fires in forested areas may spread slowly to moderately fast, with short-distance spotting possible.

As vegetation continues to cure and dry during August, fire managers urge visitors and local residents to be cautious with campfires and other flammable materials.

Prescribed Fire Planned for Hunter Ranch Area

August 8, 2011
Teton Interagency fire personnel and Grand Teton National Park natural resource managers are planning a 186-acre prescribed fire for mid to late August, whenever conditions are favorable. The burn unit is part of a 4,057-acre native rangeland restoration project in the Hunter Ranch area of the park. This project involves a multistage effort to convert pasture land back to native vegetation as part of the 2007 Bison and Elk Management Plan for the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park.

The Aspen Ridge/Hunter Ranch area was an irrigated hayfield prior to the 1970s. Despite a decades-long recovery time, untreated areas of the extensive hayfields are still dominated by non-native grasses and a host of noxious weeds.

"Restoration of native shrub lands requires a multi-step/multi-year process that poses distinct challenges at each level,” said Jason Brengle, Grand Teton National Park vegetation biologist. “We’ve been very successful with the first obstacle in the process, which was removal of existing smooth brome. During the period between the initial herbicide treatment to remove smooth brome and the planting of native seed the following year, most sites become colonized by  unwanted annual plant species and patches of noxious weeds. To inhibit the growth of these plants, NPS personnel began sowing cereal grain in the fall to act as a cover crop throughout the next growing season. The cover crop also adds organic material into the soil and helps to loosen compacted soil.”

The objective of this prescribed burn is to remove the cover crop in preparation for seeding the site with native species this fall. The prescribed fire will eliminate an additional herbicide treatment, and the late summer timing of the burn will help maximize benefits provided by the cover crop.

Fire managers will consider several factors before beginning the Hunter Ranch prescribed fire; these include weather forecasts, the condition of vegetation (dried or green), and the presence of nesting birds in the area.

Prescribed-fire ignitions will proceed only when favorable weather and fire behavior conditions are met. Smoke will be evident during the day of the burn and may persist for several days after, especially in mountain valleys during early morning and evening hours. Local residents and visitors should exercise caution in the vicinity of the prescribed-fires. Minimal traffic restrictions may occur to allow for public and firefighter safety, and fire equipment access.

Rangers Perform Rescues in Garnet Canyon

August 8, 2011
Grand Teton National Park Rangers with the help of a Teton Interagency contract helicopter performed multiple rescues in Garnet Canyon on Saturday August 6. The first incident was reported to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station at 11 a.m. Saturday. While on scene with the first incident, rangers were notified of another individual just above the Petzolt Caves in Garnet Canyon who also needed assistance.

Robert Martin, 70, from Birmingham, Alabama was hiking down a snowfield near Spaulding Falls in Garnet Canyon when he slipped, fell and tumbled into piles of rocks. Two hikers, in the area at the time, helped Martin descend to the Meadows area of Garnet Canyon where rangers eventually met the party. One hiker descended the canyon to get cell phone service and placed an emergency call directly to the ranger station.

Martin was part of a private party that intended to summit the Grand on Saturday. After spending Friday night at the Lower Saddle, Martin and his son decided not to attempt the climb but hike out instead. An emergency medical technician (EMT) and emergency room (ER) nurse, who were in the area, encountered Martin and provided initial medical care until rangers arrived on scene at
11:45 a.m.

Rangers determined Martin’s injuries to be severe enough that he would not be able to safely hike out of the canyon; therefore, they requested that the Teton Interagency contract helicopter fly him from a landing zone in the Meadows to the rescue cache at Lupine Meadows where he was met by a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment. Martin did not have a helmet, ice axe, or crampons on his mountain trek.

While on scene with Martin, rangers were notified just before 1 p.m. of another individual who needed medical assistance. Heather Hanamaikai, 34, of Rexburg, Idaho had intended to summit the Grand with her party on Saturday, but started feeling ill and began a retreat from the base of the headwall of the Lower Saddle. Hanamaikai was descending on her own when the ER nurse that had assisted Martin encountered her and directed Hanamaikai to stop and wait for help.

Given the nature of Hanamaikai’s illness, rangers decided to stabilize her and assist her in hiking down to the Meadows in Garnet Canyon where she was also met by the Interagency helicopter and flown inside the ship to Lupine Meadows.

Rangers remind visitors that snow still persists above 9,500 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.

Michael Coleman Bronze Sculpture Donated to Grand Teton National Park

Bronze sculpture of bull moose attracts both kids and photographers.

August 5, 2011
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott is pleased to announce that a bronze sculpture of a mature bull moose was recently donated to the park by two members of the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, Steve and Roberta Denning. The statuesque moose stands near the courtyard of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center and serves as a symbolic ambassador for Grand Teton as it greets visitors from near and far.

Thanks to the Denning’s generous donation, park visitors are charmed by a realistic replica of one of the park’s most iconic animals. Titled ‘September’ by American artist Michael Coleman, the life-size moose sculpture stands over nine feet tall at its antlers. This imposing sculpture has quickly become a fascinating attraction for kids and adults alike. Many visitors stop to snap a photograph standing next to the bronze moose before they venture into the visitor center.

The Dennings donated the statue through the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, the park’s primary fundraising partner. With one hundred percent funding by Foundation donors, a new state-of-the-art auditorium was recently added to the Discovery Center and dedicated on July 6.

As the ‘September’ moose sculpture continues to be a popular attraction for visitors, it seems only fitting that it resides in Moose, Wyoming at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center: a facility that the Foundation was instrumental in helping to fund and open in 2007.

“It’s been fun to watch the reactions and expressions of kids, teenagers and adults when they come face to face with the life-size moose sculpture,” said Superintendent Scott. “The Dennings have given the park and its visitors a unique and enduring gift. Their donation will likely provide not only photographic memories, but also a greater appreciation for native wildlife. This moose sculpture also offers visitors a great opportunity to view one of the park’s largest animals at close range, in complete safety.”  

Selection of New Concession Contract for Services in Rockefeller Memorial Parkway

August 3, 2011

The National Park Service (NPS) selected Flagg Ranch Company, an affiliate of the Grand Teton Lodge Company, to provide lodging, food and beverage, campground, retail, service station, and other related visitor services in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway under concession contract JODR002-11. NPS Intermountain Regional Director John Wessels made the announcement today in Denver, Colorado. The contract will begin November 1, 2011 with a term of 15 years.

Under the new contract, the NPS will require Flagg Ranch Company to undertake a number of projects, which include upgrades to some lodging rooms, the addition of camper cabins and a coffee shop, and the replacement of the diesel and unleaded gas pumps. 

The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway—a separate park unit that adjoins Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks in northwestern Wyoming—is managed by the superintendent of Grand Teton National Park.

 “We are pleased that Flagg Ranch Company was awarded a new concession contract by the Regional Office,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “We look forward to working closely with Flagg Ranch Company to usher in a new era of expanded and improved services for visitors to the Rockefeller Parkway.”

International Leisure Hosts, Ltd. currently provides visitor services at Flagg Ranch under a concession contract that took effect in 1990. International Leisure Hosts did not wish to continue services at this location and declined to submit a proposal for the new concession contract.

The NPS solicited proposals for this business opportunity through a prospectus issued August 17, 2010. Proposals were accepted through March 21, 2011. A review team of industry experts and NPS employees analyzed the proposals based on criteria specified under the provisions of the 1998 Concessions Management Improvement Act. The 1998 Act made a number of changes in how contracts are awarded with the intent of insuring quality visitor services, protecting park resources, and enhancing the competitive contract process for NPS concession contracts.

Guidelines used to evaluate proposals can be found online at

Rangers Recover Body of Fallen Climber near the Grand Teton

Valhalla Canyon lies on the northwest flank
of the 13,770-foot Grand Teton
August 2, 2011

With the assistance of a Teton Interagency contract helicopter, Grand Teton National Park rangers located the body of climber who fell approximately 2,500 feet to his death on the northwest side of the Grand Teton sometime on Sunday, July 31. After searching by foot for nearly seven hours on Monday, August 1, rangers eventually spotted the deceased climber from the air. Don Ivie, age 44, of Springfield, Missouri had undertaken a solo, one-day climb of the Grand Teton, but failed to return at an appointed time late Sunday evening and was reported overdue at 8:45 p.m.

Ivie began his solo climb of the Grand Teton at 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning. When he failed to meet his wife at day’s end, she notified Teton Interagency Dispatch Center that he was overdue. Because of the late hour and approaching darkness, rangers made arrangements to begin a search at daylight on Monday morning.

Inclement weather prevented use of the Teton Interagency contract helicopter and delayed the response by rangers stationed at a high elevation hut sited on the Lower Saddle of Grand Teton. Park rangers—along with guides from Exum School of Mountaineering—initiated a search by foot at 8 a.m. Dense clouds and heavy rain made it difficult to locate the missing man during the morning ground search; however, rangers did locate a small backpack near Grand Teton’s Upper Saddle that they assumed belonged to the missing climber. When weather conditions improved in the afternoon, rangers launched the contract helicopter to conduct an aerial search. They ultimately located Ivie’s body at 1:45 p.m. in Valhalla Canyon, which lies on the northwest flank of the 13,770-foot Grand Teton.

Using a long-line attached to the helicopter, rangers flew Ivie’s body early Monday evening from Valhalla Canyon to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache where they were met by the Teton County coroner.

Park rangers are investigating the fatal accident; however, because Ivie was climbing alone, the circumstances surrounding his fall may never be known. Ivie’s experience was limited to scrambling peaks with little technical difficulty. He had not climbed in the Teton Range prior to this excursion.