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Grand Teton National Park rangers initiated a rescue and conducted an aerial evacuation on Friday afternoon, July 12, after a climber seriously injured his leg while glissading down a snowfield in Hanging Canyon. Lauren Hall, age 33, of Jackson, Wyoming and a companion successfully climbed a feature known as The Jaw in Hanging Canyon on Mount St. John and were on their way down from the climb when Hall punched through thin snow near a rock about 10 a.m. and sustained the injury that ultimately prevented him from hiking much further.
Hall and his climbing partner spent an arduous four hours moving just one mile from the accident site to their backcountry campsite near Ramshead Lake. Hall's partner then hiked further down canyon until he reached a point where he could get cell service. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received that call for help at 3:45 p.m. Hall's partner then hiked further until he could connect with park rangers at Lupine Meadows rescue cache who were making arrangements for a reconnaissance flight to the scene via a Teton Interagency contract helicopter.
Although there are limited landing zones within Hanging Canyon, one was located near Ramshead Lake and only 100 yards from the climber's backcountry campsite. Consequently, the helicopter was able to get relatively close for the rescue mission. The contract helicopter carrying two park rangers arrived on scene at 5:45 p.m. Hall was loaded inside the ship and flown to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache on the valley floor by 6:10 p.m. Hall was then transported by private vehicle to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson.
Hall and his companion did not carry ice axes during their excursion into Hanging Canyon. While park rangers do not believe an ice axe would have necessarily prevented this injury, they recommend that backcountry users carry an ice axe as basic gear and as a safety measure for glissading and/or crossing most snow slopes in the Tetons.
On Sunday evening, July 14, a second rescue was conducted in Hanging Canyon in as many days. A 52-year-old hiker injured his leg and subsequently called for help. Two park rangers hiked in to assist the injured man, and they helped him walk to the Jenny Lake boat dock where he took a shuttle boat to the east shore and his parked vehicle at South Jenny Lake. The injured hiker then transported himself to medical care.