Monday, August 15, 2011

Grand Teton major rescue tally nears single-year record

Could some or all of these rescues have been avoided if the people involved had put more time and effort into planning and properly preparing for their outings?

LANDER, Wyo. — When Laura Mason’s controlled slide Thursday on a snowfield on 11,901-foot Nez Perce Peak sped out of control until she collided with rocks below, she became the 27th major rescue in Grand Teton National Park this year.

Because of high winds, park rescue rangers were unable to helicopter the Royal Oak, Mich., resident to medical help. Instead, rescuers made a technically complicated, 1,200-foot lowering of Mason, park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.

The park’s annual record for major rescues set in 2000 was 30. In 2009, there were 16 major rescues followed by 17 in 2010.
“They usually flirt around 17 to 20 a year,” Skaggs said.

Rangers perform rescues all the time during the summer, but many are minor — a twisted ankle at a popular tourist destination or dehydration on a crowded trail. Park officials consider any rescue operation that costs more than $500 to be major.

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