Successful Mountain Rescue in Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a rescue for a snow climber who fell after slipping and falling on snow Monday afternoon. Robert Henderson, 68, of Wilson, WY was descending the Southeast Ridge of Disappointment Peak when he fell. Rangers responded quickly to the scene and transported Henderson to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, WY.

The southeast ridge of Disappointment Peak

Henderson’s fall, which took place just before 1:30 p.m., was witnessed from below by two hikers in the Amphitheater Lake area. Those hikers were the first to call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center and report the accident. Shortly thereafter, Henderson’s climbing partner, Dan Matzke of Moose, WY, called the dispatch center and reported that Henderson had lost his footing and slid on the snow before disappearing from view. Henderson’s fall carried him a total of 400 feet downhill, including a 60-80 foot cliff, to a location amongst snow and trees approximately 300 feet above Amphitheater Lake.

A ranger who was climbing on Disappointment Peak met up with Matzke, assisted him on the technical descent to Amphitheater Lake, and reached Henderson’s location at about 3:00 pm. The ranger assessed Henderson, who was alert but had suffered leg and shoulder injuries. Matzke continued downhill with a bystander.

At 4:20 p.m., the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter inserted two rangers to Henderson’s location via short-haul. The rangers loaded Henderson into a rescue litter and prepared him for extraction by short-haul. One ranger attended Henderson during the short flight out to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 5:11 p.m. He was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s. The helicopter returned to retrieve the remaining two rangers.

Though Henderson and Matzke were planning to climb on snow and had all the necessary gear to do so, park rangers recognize that many visitors to the Tetons may not be expecting wintertime conditions in June. Rangers advise that elevations above 9,000 feet are mostly still snow-covered, and appropriate knowledge and experience using an ice ax and crampons is necessary for traversing steep terrain.
[Local News Story]


Hiker Dies in Big Bend National Park

On the afternoon of June 18th, a 46-year-old woman was found deceased within Big Bend National Park.

Mid-morning on the 18th, the couple started hiking the Dog Canyon Trail. Nearing noon, both individuals started exhibiting signs of heat distress and dehydration. The woman’s hiking partner was able to hike back to the trailhead and notify the park of the situation around 2:30 pm. An interagency response included Park Rangers and Border Patrol Agents. The remains were located around 4:20 pm. While heat stress is a likely factor, a cause of death is yet to be determined.
[NPS Story]

The woman, whose identity has not been released, is the first person to die in the park this year. Last year, four people died in Big Bend: one fell of a cliff, another had an allergic reaction, and two more had heart attacks, Jurado said.
[Local News Story]

3 Earthquakes Near Yellowstone

Three more earthquakes shook an area near Yellowstone National Park early Friday morning.

The three early morning aftershocks came after an initial 4.5-magnitude quake occurred at 6:48 p.m. Thursday. It happened about 8 miles northeast of West Yellowstone. Nine earthquakes followed.

At 2:02 Friday, a 2.8-magnitude earthquake hit the same area. It was followed by a 2.7-magnitude quake at 6:40 a.m. and another one at 7:17 a.m.

The West Yellowstone Police Department says the initial earthquake was felt in the town that borders the park, but there were no reports of damage.

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations said the quake was part of “an energetic sequence” of about 30 earthquakes in the area that began on Monday. Thursday’s quake was the largest to occur in Yellowstone since a 4.8-magnitude quake in March 2014.

Earthquakes occur frequently in and around Yellowstone.

In 1959, the Hebgen Lake earthquake near Yellowstone in Montana killed 28 people.
[Local News Story]

Climber from Nepal Dies Descending Denali

An NPS ranger patrol responded to a request for help at 17,500 feet on Denali’s West Buttress route at approximately 1 am on June 16. An independent party of three had been descending from Denali Pass when one of the teammates collapsed due to unknown illness. By the time the initial team of two NPS mountaineering volunteers reached the scene, the climber was unresponsive. Despite emergency medical interventions, the patient never regained consciousness and was pronounced deceased.
[NPS Report]

UPDATE; June 18
The mountaineer who died at 17,500 feet on Denali’s West Buttress route on June 16 is identified as Sanjay Pandit, age 28, of Kathmandu, Nepal. Pandit was descending the mountain with two teammates when he succumbed to an unknown medical illness.

The climber’s remains will be recovered from the 17,200-foot high camp when the cloudy and windy weather conditions improve.
[NPS Report]



Woman Dies Falling into Creek in Sequoia National Park

A 26-year-old woman has died after falling into a creek in Sequoia National Park, the third drowning in the park this year, authorities said Sunday.

The incident occurred Saturday evening when the woman fell into Silliman Creek near the Twin Lakes Trail and was subsequently swept downstream, according to the National Park Service.

The woman’s identity has not been released.

Record high temperatures in the region coupled with rapidly melting snow in mountain areas is causing swift, cold and dangerous river conditions, park officials warned.

“River crossings fluctuate with temperature and time of day,” U.S. Park Ranger Leah Tobin said in a prepared statement. “Just because you are able to cross in the morning, does not mean the same crossing will be at the same level when you come back in the afternoon.”
[News Story]

Timothy Conant, Kayak Guide, Dies While Rescuing Client

A 23-year-old kayak guide, Timothy Hayden Ryan Conant from Salt Lake City, Utah, died while attempting to rescue a client who capsized on Wednesday, June 14. The incident occurred in the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake. The kayaking group consisted of nine clients and three guides.

After receiving a call through the park’s dispatch center, rangers responded to the scene in a patrol boat and found Mr. Conant in the water. They brought him on board and immediately started CPR while in route back to the dock. CPR continued as Mr. Conant was transported to the helipad at Grant Village via ambulance (approximately ½-mile from the dock). A Life Flight landed to assist, but Mr. Conant was pronounced dead before taking off.

The client, who Mr. Conant attempted to save, was rescued by other guides in the group and brought to shore before rangers arrived on scene to help Mr. Conant. The client was transported to the park clinic and treated for hypothermia.
[NPS Story]

Yellowstone Lake is  the largest natural freshwater lake in the United States that is above 7,000 feet. Its waters remain cool throughout the year, so hypothermia is a constant threat.

Three Incidents in Zion Yesterday

It was a busy day for park staff at Zion National Park yesterday. High temperature reached 93, this may have been a factor.

Park staff was called to assist a hiker in Wildcat Canyon Tuesday evening. They sent a team to find and assess the situation. They discovered the hiker had broken foot and could not walk. By this time, it was around 10 p.m. and the crew decided to say with the victim until morning. Search and rescue was called Wednesday morning and crews hiked in 3 miles to help him out the canyon.

A man in his 60s collapsed and died on the West Rim Trail. He was headed up to the area of Scouts Lookout when he collapsed. An EMT and a nurse were nearby and saw what happened. They did CPR while medics were on the way. Medics arrived and could not revive the man. More crews were called to carry him down.

Another man collapse on the Emerald Pools Trail. Life Flight was called in to transport the victim. Crews had to carry him down the trail to the helicopter.

All three of the incidents happened around the same time. Zion National Park officials say the park staff is thin and the situation was a “real test.”
[Local News Story]