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Injured Hiker Rescued from Waterfalls Canyon

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Date: August 5, 2012
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431

An injured hiker was rescued via helicopter from Waterfalls Canyon in Grand Teton National Park late in the afternoon on Saturday, August 04, 2012. Jessica Haines, 21, of Laguna Beach, California fell approximately 20 feet while ascending the canyon just above Columbine Cascades. 

Haines was hiking with two companions in the canyon when they decided to separate while she hiked high off to the north side of the canyon to view geologic features before reuniting with her group at Wilderness Falls. Haines fell vertically in a rocky area before coming to rest on a ledge sustaining non-critical injuries. Due to her location and injuries, Haines was unable to continue down the canyon. 

Haines radioed for help using a VHF radio typically carried on maritime vessels and water craft. A park ranger on a routine patrol of Jackson Lake heard the transmission and notified Teton Interagency Dispatch Center of the situation at 3:19 p.m. Park rangers in the north district of Grand Teton National Park initiated a rescue response but due to the technical nature of the terrain they requested additional rangers and a Teton Interagency contract helicopter to perform a short-haul evacuation of Haines.

Park rangers reached Haines at 6:30 p.m., provided emergency medical care, and prepared her for a short-haul flight in an aerial evacuation suit attended by a park ranger below the helicopter. Haines was short-hauled from the location to a landing zone on the west shore of Jackson Lake before being transported across the lake on a Grand Teton National Park patrol boat. She was met by a waiting park ambulance on the east shore and transported to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson for further care.

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. Patients are typically flown out via short-haul with a ranger attending to them below the helicopter, as was the case for this rescue.

Waterfalls Canyon sits between Ranger Peak to the north and Eagles Rest Peak to the south. It is at the north end of Grand Teton National Park and directly west of Colter Bay Village. The canyon is accessed from the west shore of Jackson lake and does not have maintained trails.

Haines is working locally this summer. This was the sixth major search and rescue operation in the mountains of Grand Teton National Park this summer.

Did You Know?

Tetons from Hurricane Pass, KF

Did you know that Grand Teton National Park was established in both 1929 and 1950? The original 1929 park protected the mountain peaks and the lakes near the base. The boundaries were later expanded in 1950 to include much of the adjacent valley floor.