GTNP rangers rescue hikers in two incidents Saturday

JACKSON, Wyo. – Grand Teton National Park staff rescued three injured hikers over the past weekend. Rescues this time of year often can be attributed to high-elevation hiking that often includes snow and/or ice—something that surprises some hikers who are not prepared for these elements in July.

This past weekend, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call regarding an injured hiker above the three-mile junction on the Surprise/Amphitheater trail on Saturday, July 11 at about 2:15 p.m. Jeremy Fraser, 31, from NYC, was hiking when he had a misstep, injuring his lower leg. The injury was serious enough that Fraser was unable to continue on his own.

A backcountry ranger in the area responded, attended to the injury, and determined Fraser would need to be transported to the Lupine Meadows parking area by trail wheel litter. Additional backcountry rangers arrived on scene with medical gear and equipment at about 3:30 p.m. Fraser was secured in a wheel litter and transported to the trailhead. His hiking partner transported Fraser to St. John’s Health in Jackson.

A few hours later on Saturday, July 11, Teton Interagency Dispatch received another emergency call about 7:30 p.m. regarding an injured hiker who fell about 500 feet down steep snow on the east slopes of Paintbrush Divide.

Samantha Edgcombe, 19, and Mackenzie Finton, 19, both from Grand Blanc, Michigan, were hiking from Cascade Canyon to Paintbrush Canyon over Paintbrush Divide when they each slipped on snow and slid, crashing into large rocks. Another hiker in the area called for help and provided a GPS location.

Initially, it was believed only one of the hikers was significantly injured, but both were. The Teton Interagency helicopter transported two rangers to the area and each hiker was short-hauled with a ranger to Lupine Meadows, and then transported via park ambulance to St. John’s Health.

Preparation is key

Park authorities encourage all backcountry hikers and climbers to be prepared for their respective recreational activity, including knowledge about the current conditions, required skills and experience, and wayfinding skills to safely navigate the route.

Hiking areas such as the Teton Crest Trail, Alaska Basin, Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop, or any other loop involving higher elevation mountain passes still involve a large amount of snow travel. Appropriate footwear and an ice ax are mandatory. Expect snow travel above 9,500 feet and difficulty navigating snow-covered trails at higher elevations.

Ascents of the Grand and other high peaks require boots or sturdy footwear, ice ax and crampons to safely ascend and descend. Although the Upper Exum and Owen-Spalding routes on the Grand are beginning to dry out, expect alpine conditions, including snow, ice, and wet rock. Be mindful of any recent precipitation and freezing temperatures at higher elevations.

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