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Rangers Rescue Stranded Climber from Middle Teton

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Date: July 10, 2012
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431

An Olympia, Washington man who became stranded on the Middle Teton on Monday, July 9, was rescued by Grand Teton National Park rangers today, Tuesday, July 10. Eric Rohner, 27, intended a solo summit of the Middle Teton on Monday but traveled off route and became 'cliffed out.' Rohner ended up in a location from which he did not feel he could safely get down without risk of injury. 

Rohner placed a 911 call for help just after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning. The call was received by Teton Valley, Idaho and transferred to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center in Grand Teton National Park. The ranger who was scheduled to coordinated rescues on Monday was able to communicate directly with Rohner via cell phone and determine that he had enough food and water, as well as appropriate gear and extra clothing, to spend the night on the Middle Teton. Rescue operations began at 4:30 Tuesday morning as two rangers started hiking at first light. 

Rangers were not able to locate Rohner from the ground. Fortunately, a Teton Interagency contract helicopter was scheduled to be at Lupine Meadows for short-haul training that day, so rangers decided to deploy that ship for a reconnaissance flight to pinpoint Rohner's location on the mountain. 

During a 10:15 a.m. flight, rangers and the helicopter pilot determined the best rescue plan was to short-haul Rohner from his precarious location to a landing zone in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. From there, park rangers escorted Rohner down the canyon. A technical lowering and rescue by ground was estimated to require six people and approximately six hours to perform, exposing more rescuers to hazardous terrain for a longer period of time. 

Once in a hazardous situation, Rohner made sound decisions; he stayed put, called for help, followed rescuer instructions, and he was prepared to spend an unexpected night having brought extra food, water, and clothing. This decision may very well have prevented Rohner from getting seriously injured or worse. 

The Middle Teton is viewed as having a relatively straightforward route to a high summit. However, it is imperative that climbers attempting the summit have good route finding skills, pay attention to where they are, and follow the directions of park rangers. Tempting shortcuts and a lack of attention, among other factors, have resulted in a need for numerous rescue operations on this peak. 

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain. This is the third major search and rescue in the mountain for summer 2012.

Did You Know?

Tetons from the north, photo by Erin Himmel

Did you know that a large fault lies at the base of the Teton Range? Every few thousand years earthquakes up to a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter Scale signal movement on the Teton fault, lifting the mountains skyward and hinging the valley floor downward.