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On Saturday, July 25, two climbers fell and slid on a patch of snow while descending from the Dike Pinnacle on the south face of the Middle Teton in Grand Teton National Park. The climbers, Jordan Lister and Carrie Schwartz, both 25 and residents of Jackson, Wyoming, slid approximately 200 feet on snow and rocky terrain before coming to a stop on a grassy ledge. Lister sustained serious injuries requiring an evacuation by helicopter, while Schwartz sustained minor injuries.
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call for assistance at 5:22 p.m. from Schwartz. Park rangers quickly responded from the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at Lupine Meadows. They were joined by the Teton Interagency contract helicopter, which had been assisting with an extensive search for a missing person near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. The helicopter was able to land relatively near to the grassy ledge and insert three park rangers who made a short climb to reach the injured climbers. Rangers provided medical care while preparations were made for an expeditious short-haul evacuation of Lister.
Lister and an attending park ranger were short-hauled from the grassy ledge directly to the rescue cache on the valley floor just before sunset. There, Lister was transferred to a waiting park ambulance and transported to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The helicopter then returned to the site of the accident and short-hauled Schwartz and the two remaining rangers to the rescue cache. The rescue mission was completed shortly after 9:00 p.m., just before darkness would have made further operations impossible.
Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. This method is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter because of the rugged and precipitous terrain.
The fall occurred while the two climbers were descending on snow about 400 feet below the summit of the Dike Pinnacle. This type of fall—one that occurs while descending on snow—is a very common cause of mountaineering-related injuries in Grand Teton National Park. Rangers encourage climbers to pay special attention while descending on snow, and to wear helmets whenever moving about in the vertical terrain of the Teton Range where rockfalls, or a slip and fall in rock-strewn areas, can pose a danger.
This rescue was the second helicopter-assisted rescue mission of the day in the park. Rangers also flew a climber who had become ill from the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton around 7:30 on Saturday morning.
After completing this rescue, the Teton Interagency contract helicopter flew to Yellowstone to assist with the continuing search efforts for the missing person.