Jackson Hole, WY News

Granite Canyon rescue

Teton County Search and Rescue and Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued two stranded skiers in Granite Canyon, shown, late at night Feb. 28.

Grand Teton National Park officials are withholding the names of the skiers who violated an emergency closure at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on Thursday and ended up lost in Granite Canyon.

The initial investigation confirmed that a 24-year-old male and 28-year-old female from Jackson, a 24-year-old male from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and a 31-year-old female from Breckenridge, Colorado, exited the ski area boundary Thursday at the top of the Teton chair and ducked a rope into a closed area.

Two of the skiers — it’s unclear which ones — skied back inbounds while the other two, a skier and a snowboarder, got lost in Granite Canyon.

“The lost skiers had cellphone access and were able to contact a friend who in turn contacted ski patrol and then park dispatch,” Teton park spokesperson Denise Germann said in a press release. “A Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter conducted an aerial reconnaissance, using location information communicated by the lost individuals. Due to sunset and diminished light, it was challenging to confirm the location.”

The first call came in around 5:30 p.m.

Three hours later, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort helped transport three park rangers to the top of the Teton lift, allowing them ski into the canyon and start a ground search.

The lost skiers provided GPS coordinates, and rangers used ropes and belays to safely move down steeper parts of the canyon, Germann said.

“The rangers were able to verbally communicate with the lost individuals, and at approximately 11 p.m. they located the skier and snowboarder in the Spock Chutes area,” Germann said.

The rangers escorted the skiers back up the mountain and reached the ski area boundary at 2:30 a.m. Friday. The incident is under investigation by Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Germann could not say if the skiers were cited for violating the closure.

“All recreationists are reminded to respect current backcountry conditions and make informed decisions regarding any recreational endeavors,” she said. “All rules and regulations should be followed, including exiting the resort at designated access points and respecting any closures. Please do not create a situation that may put rescuers at unnecessary risk.”

In an unprecedented move, the resort had closed backcountry access this week and given skiers repeated warnings not to leave resort boundaries. Spokesperson Anna Cole said the resort hadn’t made a decision about possible repercussions for the skiers, such as having passes revoked.

“I can’t say anything about implications for those people until after the investigation is over,” she said.

Officials from the resort, Teton County Search and Rescue, Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest decided Tuesday to close the gates amid a storm cycle that had already dumped four feet of snow in the Tetons and raised the avalanche danger rating to “high” at all elevations.

Officials reopened the gates Friday.

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and breaking news. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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(7) comments

Thurs Darp

This is making more sense. I bet the two that returned didn't in fact ski to the bottom of Granite, but ducked back in at the dogleg in Crags. The other two got too low, and then were too spooked/lost to send it down to the bottom of the canyon. Still, terrible, selfish decision-making all around, completely disrespectful to the mountain, the entire back-country community, ski patrol, and ultimately to their rescuers; I do hope they are not just let off with a warning, but are made to make amends--even if it's in the form of community service hours rather than financially.

Sofia Jarmillo Staff
Sofia Jaramillo

A comment has been removed. Please abide by our commenting policy and use your real name. - JHNG Producer

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Terry Milan

I believe some states do demand reimbursement for search and rescue. Some years ago Wyoming voted down a proposal to get reimbursed for the cost of search and rescue. Then the state was getting goid returns from natural resources. Today with greater numbers of individuals arriving who do not know the area, it might be good to dig up this again. Just another case of people who can't be accountable for their own bad choices.

Christopher Hawks

k

Hans Flinch

These goons deserve a lifetime ban and should have to pay the salaries and bonuses for the year of the Rangers who rescued them

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