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Fall on Rock, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Table Mountain


Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Table Mountain

On August 8, Don Rassler reported that his climbing partner, Ben Goodwin (22), had fallen about 10-20 feet while down-climbing the first pitch of Heartbreak Ridge on Table Mountain around 0830. He barely began to catch Goodwin on the climbing rope when Goodwin landed squarely on his back near him. Being in a precarious location, the two were able to down-climb a short distance to a safe location, at which time Rassler, a Wilderness First Responder, decided to seek rescue assistance due to what he felt was significant injury to Goodwin’s lower back, with potential spinal compromise.

Ranger Johnson received the initial report and relayed information to rescue coordinator Montopoli. The contract helicopter transported seven rangers to a landing zone in the South Fork of Cascade Canyon near the injured climber. Rangers Burgette, Guenther, and Johnson climbed to Goodwin, rendered medical assistance, and after evaluating the scene determined that a short- haul operation was the best method of extraction. Medical control was contacted and concurred with the decision.

Goodwin was short-hauled to the landing zone. Goodwin was then flown internally to Lupine Meadows with Rangers Perch and Jernigan as attendants. Goodwin was then transferred to the park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Hospital. He was treated for abrasions and contusions and released. He had no spinal injury.


Having medical training is important for climbers. Rassler did a good job of assessing that there might be a significant spinal injury due to the mechanism of injury and the signs and symptoms. The contusions Goodwin received to his back resulted in pain that could have been associated with a spinal injury. Without an X-ray machine, everyone treated Goodwin as if he had a spinal injury. A basic knowledge of what to do and what NOT to do can make a big difference when a member of your party is hurt. (Source: Dan Burgette, SAR Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)