Lightning SAR - July 21, 2010

Lightning SAR - July 21, 2010
Two patients are short-hauled to the Lower Saddle

Preventing Mountain Accidents

Objective Dangers in the Mountains
Climbing and mountaineering are inherently risky activities and falling is but one of the risks faced when venturing into the vertical world.  Objective dangers include, but are not limited to, falling rock and ice, avalanches, lightning, and severe storms.  Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the Tetons during summer, and clear skies in the morning often turn into severe weather later in the day.  Consider the escape routes available to you before you start your climb.

Both Experienced and Inexperienced Climbers May Become Involved in Accidents
Each year a number of accidents occur in Grand Teton National Park that require rescue.  All climbers, no matter their experience and ability, are susceptible to objective dangers.  Good judgment and proper preparedness can minimize your chances of becoming a victim.  Bring the proper clothing and equipment for your climb and know how to use it.  Take a class if you are not familiar with the proper use of an ice axe, correct belaying techniques, or placing protection  Know your limitations and choose routes that are within your ability.  Keep a watchful eye on the weather and be prepared to retreat if conditions deteriorate.

Steep Snowfields are Found in the Tetons Year-Round
Some of the most dangerous terrain in the Tetons are the snowfields, which are the source of serious accidents each year.  These snowfields are especially abundant in early and mid-season (through July), but can be found all summer long on some routes and/or in some seasons.  Inexperienced climbers are strongly urged to obtain instruction and experience in proper ice axe technique (self-arrest & self-belay) before tackling routes that require potentially hazardous snowfield crossings.

Mountain Rescue

Take Responsibility for Your Own Safety
Climbers and mountaineers have a primary responsibility to do their best to extricate themselves out of their own predicament. In the event of an accident, depend first on yourself and your own party members. Learn about wilderness first-aid and attempt to self-rescue to the extent possible. Factors such as weather, darkness, or objective hazards may delay or even prevent an organized rescue response.  Most importantly, is an attitude of personal responsibility for your party's well-being and that you will survive no matter what. 

Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers
In Grand Teton National Park, mountain rescue operations in the Teton Range are the primary responsibility of the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers.  The staff consists of 6 permanent and 15 seasonal rangers who are dedicated to providing professional, efficient rescue response to those in need.

In the Event of a Life-Threatening Injury
Efforts should be made to obtain assistance as soon as possible.  Cell phone notification is by far the most common method of notification.  Calling Teton Interagency Dispatch (307-739-3301) directly will avoid potential confusion by eliminating the chance of your emergency call going to another county's dispatch center.  Program this number into your cell phone before your climb.  If that number doesn't work dial 911.  

If cell phone service is not available, try sending a text to Teton Interagency Dispatch (307-690-3301).  If that doesn't work try a friend or family member and have them call for help.  Text messages require less signal strength and often transmit when cell phone calls cannot connect.  If possible, send an extra member of your party or try to notify an adjacent party on the mountain, who can get to an area with cell phone reception or hike out to get word to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station (or any Visitor Center).  Do not leave the injured climber alone unless absolutely necessary.  

Information needed by the rescue team includes:
1) the exact location of the injured climber
2) the time of the accident 
3) the nature and extent of injuries & medical care being provided 
4) equipment at the scene (ropes, hardware, first-aid kit, etc.) 
5) the number of people with the injured party 
6) the plan of action (if any)