Bears are active in Grand Teton
Black and grizzly bears are roaming throughout the park--near roads, trails and in backcountry areas. Hikers and backcountry users are advised to travel in groups of three or more, make noise and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay 100 yards from bears. More »
Multi-use Pathway Closures
Intermittent closures of the park Multi-use Pathway System will occur through mid-October during asphalt sealing and safety improvement work. Pathway sections will reopen as work is completed. Follow the link for a map and more information. More »
Moose-Wilson Road Status
The Moose-Wilson Road between the Death Canyon Road and the Murie Center Road is currently open to all traffic. The road may re-close at any time due to wildlife activity. For current road conditions call 307-739-3682. More »
Lost Skiers Rescued during Major Winter Storm
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393
Three skiers unintentionally ended up in Grand Teton National Park's Granite Canyon backcountry on Friday, February 7, prompting a search and rescue mission by park rangers the following day during a significant winter storm. Despite a high and rising avalanche danger, park rescuers successfully assisted the three out of the Teton backcountry by 9:30 p.m. Saturday, February 8.
Tom Barry, 59, of Jackson, Wyoming, Zoe Tong, 49, and Dave Catero, 52, from San Francisco, California, left the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort boundary from Gate 1 at about 11 a.m. on Friday with the intention of skiing an area called Four Pines, adjacent to the ski resort. The three mistakenly skied into Granite Canyon instead, and became lost in Grand Teton's more remote backcountry.
By 4 p.m. Friday, the three skiers realized they were lost, so they decided to dig a snow cave and stay put for the night. By Saturday morning, the group was out of food and water, and only one of them was carrying an avalanche transceiver. They decided to send a text message to a friend indicating they were lost and needed help.
Teton County Sheriff's Office dispatchers received the call for help, and notified park rangers at 8:30 a.m. The skiers were able to provide their location by GPS coordinates derived from their cell phone, and through a text message, rangers determined that no one in the party was injured. Due to high winds and low visibility, a helicopter reconnaissance and rescue was not possible, so rangers prepared for a ground-based rescue.
Rangers spent most of the day weighing options to help the trio while analyzing the risk to rescuers. With concerns that the three might not survive a second night in the backcountry, rangers ultimately decided to attempt a rescue. If rescuers had encountered signs of slope instability, or if the avalanche danger had been any higher, rangers would not have attempted the rescue. Ultimately, four park rangers departed the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on skis at 4:00 p.m. Saturday and reached the party at 7:30 p.m. The group was then escorted out of the backcountry and back to the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Rangers remind backcountry users and those who leave the ski resort boundary that a rescue is not guaranteed. Pursing these activities requires a high level of personal accountability and responsibility. All members of a backcountry party should have appropriate avalanche gear, including a transceiver, shovel, and probe. Backcountry skiers and snowboarders need to be prepared to spend more time than anticipated by bringing extra clothing, high energy snacks and water. They should also consider their physical limitations and time restrictions when choosing a destination, and bring a map of the area and know how to use it before setting out.
The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reported the avalanche danger as "considerable" to "high" on Saturday with increasing danger due to strong winds, warming temperatures and abundant new snow. It's important to note that the avalanche forecast center does not provide reports for extreme terrain.
This was the first major search and rescue in Grand Teton National Park this winter.
Did You Know?
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.