Date: July 12, 2009
Russell’s climbing party had successfully reached the summit of Teewinot and was on their way down when the accident occurred; all of the climbers had ice axes and crampons, but none were wearing helmets. The group decided to make their decent via the South West Couloir but missed their intended route and ended up on the more technical North West Couloir.
Grand TetonNational Park rangers were notified of the accident at around 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, when Russell’s companions placed a call for help from a cell phone. Rangers immediately organized a rescue operation and requested the assistance of an interagency contract helicopter for support in the rescue. The helicopter flew to Lupine Meadows, picked up several rangers, and performed an aerial reconnaissance flight. Rangers were able to remain in contact via cell phone with a member of Russell’s climbing party, which was helpful in pinpointing his location on the mountain.
A suitable helicopter landing zone near the accident site allowed rangers to arrive on scene just before 2 p.m. Rangers provided Russell with emergency medical care before placing him into a rescue litter for aerial evacuation. He was then flown via the short-haul method at 2:30 p.m.—with a ranger accompanying him below the helicopter—directly to the JennyLake rescue cache located on the valley floor. A park ambulance transported Russell to St. John’sMedicalCenter in Jackson for further treatment of his injuries.
Park rangers also evacuated Russell’s companions via helicopter after helping them descend to the high west shoulder of TeewinotMountain.
Rangers remind climbers that dangerous and variable snow conditions persist above 9,000 feet. Backcountry users are advised to stop in or call a visitor center or ranger station on the day of travel to obtain the most current trail, route and snow conditions. Climbers should also note that most climbing accidents involve slips on snow, and most occur on the descent at the end of a long day.
This marks the first major mountain rescue operation in Grand TetonNational Park this summer.
National Park Service
Grand Teton National Park
P. O. Drawer 170
Moose, WY 83012
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Last updated: February 24, 2015