TETON VILLAGE, Wyo. —In a joint effort Wednesday, Teton County Search and Rescue (TCSAR) and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) ski patrol rescued an injured skier from No Name Canyon, an area in the JHMR backcountry.
According to a TCSAR report, the skier became injured while descending a steep, very narrow southeast-facing couloir known as Mini Gothic. The 37-year-old male had accessed the area after entering the backcountry through a gate at JHMR. The accident left the skier in significant pain and unable to ski or walk.
In order to reach this location from the resort, it generally requires about one and a half to two hours of hiking, ascending on touring equipment and traversing on skis. TCSAR volunteers considered numerous options for how to get the patient out safely as the skier’s location, steep terrain and inclement weather presented challenging conditions for a rescue.
Initially, after careful analysis of the weather, TCSAR decided to deploy a helicopter for a short-haul operation to extract the patient. The helicopter flew to the accident site and dropped off two TCSAR volunteers to care for the patient at roughly 9,600 feet. The helicopter lifted off and left the crew in the field before landing on Fish Creek Road in Wilson to rig for short-haul.
At the same time, ski patrol dispatched two members to the site as TCSAR sent a ski team of eight volunteers to the aerial tram at JHMR as a backup. As the ski team went up the tram, inclement weather grounded the helicopter on Fish Creek Road. At approximately 2:10 p.m., the ski team entered the backcountry from a top gate at the resort and began making their way toward the patient. Eventually, the helicopter was unable to fly due to icing, leaving the full response to the ski team.
Ski patrol arrived on the scene carrying a rescue sled and TCSAR’s ski team arrived at the patient soon after, at roughly 3 p.m. Ski patrol and TCSAR volunteers packaged the patient and together transported him down the mountain in the rescue sled.
The teams guided the sled down 2,800 vertical feet over roughly two miles and variable terrain to Fish Creek Road, where the patient was handed over to an ambulance with Jackson Hole Fire/EMS at 4 p.m.
“It was a great partnership on a big rescue effort,” said TCSAR.
This was the third time in the last six weeks that TCSAR has come to the rescue of a skier in No Name Canyon.
“Today’s incident serves as a healthy reminder of the time, resources and people-hours in the field necessary to pull off a rescue when the helicopter can’t fly.”