It was a busy week last week for Grand Teton search and rescue teams, with a couple of helicopter rescues, including an overnight rescue.
Grand Teton National Park rangers responded Wednesday evening, July 17, to a member of a climbing group that seriously injured her leg and was unable to move. At approximately 5:40 p.m. a park ranger hiking in the Lower Garnett Canyon area was notified that a climber was injured and needed help.
Natalie Ulloa, 17 years old from Houston, Texas, was descending the Southwest Couloir route after summiting the Middle Teton when she slipped on ice and snow earlier Wednesday afternoon. She fell approximately 100 feet onto rock.
Two rangers with medical equipment and gear began hiking to the location from the Lupine Trailhead and two other rangers that were located at the lower saddle of the Grand Teton climbed the Middle Teton and descended down to the injured climber. A helicopter rescue was attempted twice but was not an option due to very windy conditions.
Ulloa was stabilized and kept warm and prepped to spend the night on the mountain with two of the rangers. The two other rangers hiked down with four members of the climbing group. The hike down was challenging due to terrain, snow, and ice, and the skill set of the individuals.
On Thursday morning, July 18, another attempt to fly to the scene was thwarted due to dangerously high winds. Four additional rangers hiked to the scene to help manually lower the injured climber over snow, ice, and boulders to Garnet Meadows where a helicopter could land if there was a break in the winds. It took approximately three hours to carry Ulloa to the meadows.
Six members of the park trail crew hiked to Garnet Meadows with additional gear, including a wheeled litter, to assist as needed if the helicopter could not land.
At approximately 2:30 pm a break in the winds allowed the Teton Interagency Helicopter to land at Garnet Meadows and transport Ulloa to Lupine Meadows where a park ambulance was waiting to take her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, WY.
At approximately 5 pm another emergency call was received involving a hiker that was injured by a large falling rock near the base of the Son of Accoupolus Couloir, near the mouth of Death Canyon. Daniel Henderson, 22 years old from Hancock, Michigan, and his climbing partner were approaching a climb in Death Canyon. Near the base of the cliff, they pulled loose some rocks, and a large rock hit Henderson causing multiple injuries.
They called 911 and were transferred to Teton Interagency Dispatch.
A park ranger hiked to the scene to stabilize and access Henderson’s injuries. The Teton Interagency Helicopter was used to short-haul the injured climber to the meadow at the historic White Grass Dude Ranch. A park ambulance transported Henderson to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The climbing partner was uninjured and hiked out to the trailhead.
Conditions at elevations above 9,000 feet in the Teton Range are still snow-covered. Hikers and climbers in these areas should carry both an ice ax and crampons and know how to use them or adjust the route. Please visit the Jenny Lake Ranger Station before backcountry trips for the most current route conditions.