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Falling Rock and Slip on Snow—Unable to Self-Arrest Due to Inadequate Clothing and Equipment and Inexperience, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Middle Teton and Disappointment Peak

FALLING ROCK AND SLIP ON SNOW-UNABLE TO SELF-ARREST DUE TO INADEQUATE CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT AND INEXPERIENCE

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Middle Teton and Disappointment Peak

On July 28th, rangers made two rescues of injured parties—one from a point between Middle Teton and South Teton, the other from Disappointment Peak. The first occurred on Wednesday morning. Mysha Miskin (30) of Rexburg, Idaho, had been hit by falling rocks around 5:00 p.m. the previous evening while climbing the Chouinard Ridge on the Middle Teton with her husband, Garon Miskin. Although Mysha was injured by a rock that struck her just below the back of her climbing helmet, she and Garon continued to climb and summit the Middle Teton so that they could safely descend an easier route via the Southwest Couloir on the Middle Teton. By the time the climbers reached a point just below the saddle between Middle Teton and South Teton, Mysha was not able to continue. Garon hiked back up to the saddle and made a 911 call for assistance late Tuesday evening. Two rangers with emergency medical gear began hiking from Lupine Meadows trailhead into the South Fork of Garnet Canyon within an hour of the emergency call and reached Mysha at about 2:45 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Four other rangers packed in extra medical equipment and camping gear to care for the injured Mysha until the park’s contract helicopter could fly with early morning light.

On Wednesday morning, the rangers carried Mysha by hand-litter to a helicopter landing spot just east of the Middle and South Teton saddle. She was flown out, then taken to St.John’s Medical Center in Jackson for treatment of her injuries. Garon applied emergency first aid to his wife and the two climbers practiced good self rescue procedures until park rangers could reach them. They were well prepared for their climbing excursion and had extra clothing and rain gear with them.

The second helicopter-assisted rescue and evacuation took place at 4:30 p.m. Elizabeth Messaros (22) dislocated her shoulder while attempting to stop herself from sliding after she slipped on hard-packed snow in the Spoon Couloir on Disappointment Peak. Messaros slid about 150 feet before running into rocks and sustaining additional injuries. Teton Interagency dispatch received a cell phone call from Messaros’ hiking partner Steve about 11:40 a.m. Rangers were just completing the transfer of equipment and rescue personnel from the South Fork of Garnet Canyon after the morning evacuation. The park’s contract helicopter shuttled six rangers to a landing spot on the flanks of Disappointment Peak near the Grand Teton. The rangers then descended the Spoon Couloir, provided emergency medical care to Messaros, and lowered her to the bottom of the couloir after placing her in a climbing harness affixed to ropes. They helped Messaros walk to a spot just above Amphitheater Lake, where the helicopter landed and picked her up for a flight to the Lupine Meadows rescue facility. Messaros was then transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center for treatment of her injuries. Messaros was wearing tennis shoes and using ski poles, rather than an ice ax, at the time of the accident. (Source: From an NPS Morning report submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Specialist)

Analysis

Two contrasting stories. As for the latter, Ranger Renny Jackson said it above in the March 12 incident: Loss of control in a slide on snow is the most common incident in the park, and usually involves the lack of proper gear. (Source: Jed Williamson)