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Rescue from Death Canyon at Grand Teton National Park

The Death Valley Patrol Cabin at Grand Teton

The Death Canyon Patrol Cabin, Grand Teton National Park. Photo by p373 via Flickr and Creative Commons.

A climber who was injured earlier this week in Grand Teton National Park can be thankful the location of his mishap wasn't predictive of the outcome. He was rescued from Death Canyon, and the irony doesn't end there. The man fell while ascending a route named... Caveat Emptor.*

According to a park report,

Park rangers used the assistance of a Teton interagency helicopter to rescue a 23-year-old man from a climbing route in Death Canyon at Grand Teton National Park on Tuesday, August 25. The climber, a resident of Jackson, Wyoming, and his partner were ascending the first pitch on a route called Caveat Emptor when they pulled off several rocks, causing them to fall about 30-40 feet.

That fall is more than far enough to do some serious damage to the human body, and the report includes a good reminder about the value of proper equipment for any outdoor activity:

"...both climbers were wearing helmets at the time of the incident."

Even so, one of the men received injuries to his face and shoulder that were serious enough to require expert assistance.

Two off-duty guides from Exum Mountaineering were climbing in the vicinity at the time of the accident and were able to reach the injured man and make an emergency cell phone call to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to alert park personnel of the situation. Rangers responded to the scene on foot and by helicopter and provided emergency medical care to the injured climber.

With the assistance of the two Exum guides, rangers lowered the injured climber to a ledge below a route called the Snaz, where he was then airlifted via short-haul to a landing zone near the Death Canyon patrol cabin. A park ambulance then transported the injured man to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

Park rangers salute the Exum Mountain guides for their quick response and assistance during this rescue operation. Other climbers—both professional and amateur—are frequently the first persons on the scene of a backcountry accident; the information they provide to responding rangers, and the assistance they offer, are often instrumental in the positive outcome of a rescue effort.

This is one incident when everything worked in the victim's favor—the location of his mishap notwithstanding.

*Caveat Emptor - "let the buyer beware."


Our family and friends were hiking that trail on that day and saw the helicoptor transporting the injured climbers. Kudos to the rescue team!

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