Grand Teton National Park

With tens of thousands of tourists passing through any given day and a strong contingent of risk-taking residents, slip-trip type blunders, boating mishaps and climbing accidents are routine parts of summer life for Jackson Hole’s first-responders.

Sunday in Grand Teton National Park was a prime example.

The busy July weekend day first became eventful for rangers in the late morning hours, when a call came in of a local man who sustained severe injuries while climbing the Open Book route of Disappointment Peak.

“He injured both legs, his partner was able to lower him to a ledge and then rappelled to his location,” Grand Teton spokesman C.J. Adams said.

The badly hurt resident was extracted from the Tetons via a “short haul,” a technique in which a rope is dangled from a helicopter that’s fixed to the patient. Then the man was brought to St. John’s Health for treatment.

Dispatchers and rangers only had about an hour of reprieve between calls.

Ten minutes before noon, a call came in requesting help for an 18-year-old male tourist who had hurt a leg in the boulder field below the evermore popular Delta Lake.

“This was a non-weight-bearing lower leg injury,” Adams said. “A short-haul was also performed there. They did a self-transport to St. John’s.”

Next up, the Snake River caused some chaos for two out-of-the-area kayakers who endeavored to float from Pacific Creek to Deadman’s Bar in a tandem boat. The call for help rang through around 4 p.m.

“They got caught up in a midstream obstruction,” Adams said. “Our rangers picked them up, essentially in a raft.”

Although natural river levels in the region are especially slim this summer, flows coming out of the Jackson Lake Dam are nearly 75% more than the historic median — high water that has caused some problems for boaters.

Another search-and-rescue operation on Friday also came to the aid of floaters attempting to float from Pacific Creek to Deadman’s Bar, though that time it was canoers.

Saturday was quieter both for Grand Teton rangers and the volunteer corps with Teton County Search and Rescue. There were no incidents responded to in the park, and just an overdue kayaker attempting a Jackson Lake-to-Palisades-Reservoir float that caught volunteers’ attention.

That’s not to say it has been a quiet summer.

“In the last week, there have been close to 10 rescues for us,” Teton County Search and Rescue Chief Advisor Cody Lockhart told the Jackson Hole Daily.

On Friday, Teton County Search and Rescue led two operations. There was a helicopter evacuation of a 16-year-old with a heart issue on Fox Creek Pass in the Tetons and a person who was bucked off a horse, broke a leg and was knocked unconscious in Buffalo Valley.

Rescues picked up again Monday morning.

“We had a life-flight out of Alaska Basin for a 7-year-old girl at 4 a.m. this morning,” Lockhart said on Monday. “She was unconscious and receiving CPR, but is alive in Salt Lake right now, which is a huge success.”

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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