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
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.