International Team Rescues Injured Climber

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Date: July 6, 2007
Contact: Melissa Wilson, 406 888-7895

WEST GLACIER, MONT. –Glacier National Park rangers and wardens from Banff National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada cooperated in the rescue of an injured hiker on July 3, 2007. The hiker, Denis Twohig, 68, from Whitefish, Mont., had taken a 15 foot pendulum fall while leading a technical rock climb on the “Gendarme” in Glacier. The fall occurred around 5:30 p.m. on July 2. Twohig’s fall was stopped by his climbing partner. The uninjured partner lowered Twohig a short distance to a ledge and secured him. Gendarme is a prominent feature on the northeast ridge of Little Chief Mountain in the St. Mary Valley.

The partner then left the injured climber and descended Little Chief Mountain. At about 11:00 p.m., the partner reached the Rising Sun Lodge Store and reported the accident to Glacier Dispatch. Recognizing the extreme technical nature of the incident and the emergency medical needs of the patient, park rangers held search and rescue (SAR) planning sessions through the early morning hours to coordinate different rescue options. 

After a reconnaissance flight and a briefing by Glacier park rangers, two Canadian park wardens were each inserted via short haul using a Parks Canada helicopter to Twohig’s location in the notch of the Gendarme. After securing the patient, he was short hauled from the ledge and then transferred to ALERT air ambulance and flown to Kalispell Regional Hospital around 9 a.m.

Parks Canada utilizes highly trained helicopter pilots and park wardens for technical SAR missions throughout the mountain parks of Canada. Their assistance was critical as they provided the most viable option for Twohig’s immediate rescue.

This rescue is an excellent example of the outstanding relationship and true partnership between Parks Canada and the National Park Service at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This relationship is well documented by the Peace Park agreement and is cultivated by frequent contact and cooperation between the two park staffs. Waterton-Glacier is the world’s first International Peace Park and 2007 is the 75th anniversary of the Peace Park designation.

Officials at Glacier National Park note that parties of at least three are preferred for all hiking and climbing activities. This party size ensures that if a member of the group needs assistance, someone can remain with the injured, while someone else seeks assistance.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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West Glacier, MT 59936


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