The weather gods took care of us last week with some rock solid high pressure and bluebird skies for our annual training event at Grand Teton National Park.  The highlight of the week was utilizing the contract helicopter to ingress personnel to the top of Peak 11,840 for a multi-pitch lowering exercise down some unknown ground. The peak is situated between Teewinot and the Grand Teton and it appeared to offer a very steep/clean south face for our training exercise.

The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers are responsible for rescue in Grand Teton NP. The team relies on a variety of techniques for effectuating rescue efforts including helicopter short-haul, traditional rope rescue methods, and hybrid methods that utilize both ground and air approaches.

Multi-pitch rescue methods in a Big Wall environment like Peak 11,840 require a number of approaches to be conducted safely and efficiently:

  • protecting for overhead hazard by off-setting station positions relative to the gravitational fall line and/or park yourself under a big roof
  • deploying personnel down the wall in advance of the patient/attendant to scout out station positions and anchoring options
  • avoiding terrain traps such as gullies as well as rope pinch points
  • maintaining a rope connection from one station to the next. Basically, never find yourself positioned on a Big Wall without a secure rope connection either above or below
  • and as always: crisp command & control, thorough cross-checks of systems, and a shared team vision for what needs to happen next

The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers are some of the best in the business at conducting difficult alpine rescue missions. Once again, it was our pleasure to be able to spend a week in the mountains with them honing the details and nuances of challenging rope rescue scenarios.

Heli ingress – North Face of Grand Teton in background

Top station – Peak 11840 multi-pitch

Lowering rescuer from Station 2 to Station 3

Roll Call – Peak 11840

Team Briefing

Peak 11840 – Stations and descent path