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majid_sabet


Jul 22, 2010, 9:14 AM
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Grand Teton rangers rescuing 16 mountain climbers
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GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — Rescue teams used helicopters to remove 16 injured climbers from an exposed mountain in Grand Teton National Park on Wednesday after a thunderstorm and severe lightning struck the area, a park spokeswoman said. One climber was still unaccounted for Wednesday night.

http://www.rockclimbing.com/...orum%3D78=New+Thread


hacksaw


Jul 22, 2010, 9:30 AM
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Rangers save 16 from Grand


By Cory Hatch & Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: July 22, 2010


Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued 16 climbers injured in a lightning storm on the 13,770-foot Grand Teton on Wednesday but had to call off the search for a 17th at dark.

The 17 were caught in the storm, which reached a crescendo between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Jenny Lake climbing rangers used two helicopters to evacuate the 16, all of whom were injured by lightning strikes. All were higher than 13,200 feet.

The event was likely the largest search and rescue operation in Grand Teton since the early 1960s. Rangers accomplished the rescue after being dropped on the mountain’s summit pyramid from a rope dangling beneath a helicopter, then plucking nine of the injured off the peak using the same dangling “short haul” technique.

Park officials did not release the name of the missing climber. He was one of a party of eight climbing the peak via the Owen-Spalding route, the easiest on the mountain.

The missing climber had been with seven companions in the area of the Belly Roll when the storm hit, park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. The feature is so named because climbers must drag their stomachs across the bulging rock as they cling to hand holds and traverse above the precipitous West Face.

“He went over a cliff,” Skaggs said. “I don’t know what made him go down, the concussion [from lightning] or a lightning strike. They just lost sight of him.”

“They will look for him at first light,” Skaggs said of the rangers. “Given the circumstances, they wouldn’t attempt this at night.”

In addition to the group at the Belly Roll, another team of five climbers was above that feature on the Owen-Spalding route and a third team of four was 100 feet from the summit on the Exum Ridge.

Skaggs said a lightning map showed at least six or seven strikes in the area. A professional Exum mountain guide aided the party from the Belly Roll down to the 11,650-foot high Lower Saddle.

“Multiple patients reported being struck three, four, five times,” physician A.J. Wheeler, co-medical advisor for Grand Teton National Park said. “We saw a whole range of injuries from bumps and bruises to lightning burns and electrical injuries to secondary trauma from being thrown,” by lightning strikes.

Climbers rescued from the summit pyramid were flown, dangling below the rescue airship, to the Lower Saddle. From there many, if not all, of the victims got inside a Yellowstone National Park helicopter and were shuttled to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache at 6,700 feet on the valley floor.

“I wouldn’t classify anyone as critical, but we did see the whole range of injuries,” Wheeler said.

Skaggs said at least one of the groups included Teton area residents. The other parties were made up of climbers who were not permanent denizens of Teton County, she said.

Nine patients arrived at St. John’s Hospital, one of them a woman, spokeswoman Karen Connelly said. One was admitted to the intensive care unit and another flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

Four were expected to be admitted to the primary care unit in fair condition suffering from injuries resulting from lightning strikes. Those amounted to minor trauma and burns.

Three were discharged.

Among those who were unloaded from the helicopter at Lupine Meadows and into ambulances were a man and a woman who were bandaged. The man was carried or limping and had a bandaged foot. The woman had a field dressing on her hand.

Several of those who got off the rescue ship were unsteady. One woman appeared in wide-eyed shock.

Rangers had to help several of the victims. Others walked off without signs of distress.

The rescue got underway at about 2 p.m., but was suspended just after 5 p.m. by another storm that sent still more lightning down on the highest peaks in the Teton Range. Some rescue workers and victims took shelter in the Exum Hut and Park Service ranger hut on the Lower Saddle during the second storm.

At 6:30 p.m., both helicopters again departed from Lupine Meadows in the rain to continue rescue operations. All but the missing climber were on the valley floor by about 9 p.m. At least one helicopter then flew again to see if the missing climber could be found.

“It was so dark by then it would be difficult to locate that climber,” Skaggs said.

The operation included 18 rescue workers on the mountain, the helicopter crews, and numerous support staff.

— Kelsey Dayton and Bradly J. Boner contributed to this report


KirbyC


Jul 22, 2010, 11:52 AM
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http://wcfcourier.com/...64-001cc4c03286.html

College student from Hull missing in Grand Tetons

By Courier Lee News Service and wire reports | Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:49 pm

HULL --- Rescue workers resumed a high-altitude search Thursday for a climber from Hull, who disappeared during a fierce thunderstorm that forced park officials to remove 16 other hikers from an exposed mountainside.

Dordt College sports information director Mike Byker confirmed the missing hiker is Brandon Oldenkamp, a Hull, Iowa, resident and member of the Dordt men's basketball team. Byker said the school was not ready to comment on the ongoing rescue missing.

Three rangers who spent the night on Grand Teton mountain began searching at daybreak and more rangers were to join in the search during the day, park spokeswoman Bobbie Visnovske said. A helicopter was assisting in the effort.

Teams on Wednesday used helicopters to rescue 16 injured climbers in three separate groups from elevations above 13,000 feet on the mountain.

All the climbers suffered injuries from lightning, and included burns and neurological effects such as numbness, park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.

The groups were climbing the 13,770-foot Grand Teton mountain when severe lightning hit the area.

Suspended from helicopters by rope, rangers plucked the climbers from the mountain and carried them to aid stations at lower elevations. On Wednesday night, the climbers notified emergency officials of a 17th climber who had not been accounted for, Skaggs said.

"He did go over a cliff. His climbing party lost sight of him, which sounds quite serious. But his condition is unknown at this point," Skaggs said late Wednesday evening.

The climber disappeared off the west face of the mountain, she said.

"It's vertical terrain. It's possible that he fell some distance," Skaggs told The Associated Press.

The climbers' identities and hometowns weren't available, Skaggs said.

Nine climbers were taken to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, said hospital spokeswoman Karen Connelly.

The hospital discharged three of the patients and transported a fourth to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for treatment of potentially serious injuries. The five others were being evaluated Wednesday night, Connelly said.

"All of the patients that we saw were evaluated and treated for injuries related to lightning strike, and those injuries included minor trauma and burns," Connelly said. "Most of the patients are in fair to good condition."

Connelly said some of the rescued climbers had declined to go to the hospital.


KirbyC


Jul 22, 2010, 11:54 AM
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Keep him in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever you do.


freerangequark


Jul 22, 2010, 12:26 PM
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Re: [KirbyC] Grand Teton rangers rescuing 16 mountain climbers [In reply to]
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Sad :(

http://www.cbsnews.com/...al/main6703170.shtml

Heartfelt condolences to the family of Brandon Oldenkamp.


(This post was edited by freerangequark on Jul 22, 2010, 1:05 PM)


KirbyC


Jul 22, 2010, 1:04 PM
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Re: [freerangequark] Grand Teton rangers rescuing 16 mountain climbers [In reply to]
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freerangequark wrote:
Sad :(

http://www.cbsnews.com/...al/main6703170.shtml

Heartfelt condolences to the family of Brandon Oldenkamp.

linked.

May he rest in peace..


(This post was edited by KirbyC on Jul 22, 2010, 1:05 PM)


hacksaw


Jul 22, 2010, 3:02 PM
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UPDATE: Body of missing climber found, identified


By Kelsey Dayton
Date: July 22, 2010

Grand Teton National Park rangers Thursday morning found the body of an Iowa climber who was knocked off the 13,770-foot high Grand Teton during a lightning storm Wednesday that injured 16 other mountaineers.

Brandon Oldenkamp, 21, of Sanborn, Iowa, was crossing a feature known as the Belly Roll on the Owen-Spalding route of the mountain, when lightning knocked him off the shear rock wall, park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. Oldenkamp was in a climbing harness, tied into a rope and on belay when the lightning hit and his friends watched him disappear.

He was one of 17 climbers in three parties who were above 13,200 feet on the Grand when the storm rolled over the mountain mid day. Rangers used two helicopters to rescue the other 16 before dark in likely the most complex operation in park history, Skaggs said.

The search for Oldenkamp resumed this morning and rangers spotted his body. It was about 2,000 feet below where he was last seen by companions and near a climb known as the Black Ice Couloir.

Rangers had not reached Oldenkamp’s body by noon, Skaggs said. When they do, they may be able to learn why normal climbing safety gear did not save him from the deadly fall.

One theory is lightning hit and severed the rope, Skaggs said.

Two of the three parties caught in the storm were on the Owen-Spalding route, while the other group was on the Exum route.

To effect the rescue, rangers flew by helicopter to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton and then climbed to the stranded parties. Earlier reports said the rangers were dropped near the top of the mountain by helicopter, but that is apparently not the case.

Several of the injured were taken off the Grand’s summit pyramid using the short-haul method where they dangle from a cable below the helicopter.

Of the nine patients St. John’s Medical Center received, three were treated and released, four were admitted into primary care unit in fair condition — one of whom was released today, one was admitted into the intensive care unit and one with more serious injuries was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, hospital spokeswoman Karen Connelly said. All were seen for injuries relating to lightning strike, such as trauma and burns.

The rescue mission is believed to be the most difficult conducted by Grand Teton National Park staff. Vertical terrain, the number of climbers and the problematic weather added to the challenge, Skaggs said.

“This will be one of, if not, the most complex rescue operations that Grand Teton National Park staff has ever conducted,” she said.

Oldenkamp was going to be a senior at Dordt College in Iowa where he played basketball, said John Baas, vice president of college advancement. The college community was contacted and students were asked to join in prayer for Oldenkamp, his family and the rescuers, Baas said. A campus-wide prayer service was planned for later in the day.


hyhuu


Jul 23, 2010, 5:33 AM
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So tragic. May he rest in peace.

On the Grand Teton, you can easily see the storm approaching from many many miles away - as far as your eyes can see to be exact. I'm curious how did so many groups got caught exposed like that?


hacksaw


Jul 23, 2010, 8:26 AM
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Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Climber Killed, Sixteen Injured During Lightning Storm

Rangers launched a multi-faceted, complex rescue operation to reach numerous climbers who were injured by lightning during the passage of an active and severe thunderstorm in the Teton Range on Wednesday, July 21st. Lightning bolts struck at a number of locations on the 13,770-foot Grand Teton at around noon, and 16 climbers received moderate to severe injuries from indirect electrical charges radiating from the lightning. One climber who was still missing on Wednesday evening was discovered during an aerial search by helicopter yesterday morning. Brandon Oldenkamp, 21, of Sanborn, Iowa, apparently fell about 2,000 feet to his death when he was impacted by a lightning strike. His body was located off the Northwest Face of the Grand Teton below a feature called the Black Ice Couloir. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received an initial cell phone call at 12:25 p.m. on Wednesday from one of the climbing parties, requesting help for injured persons. Rangers were staging a rescue mission for that climbing party when another cell phone call was received from another climbing party that had also been hit by lightning. Eventually, a third group made contact to summon help and the rescue mission increased in size, scope and complexity. Rangers summoned the Teton interagency contract helicopter and began to fly rescue personnel and equipment to the 11,600-foot Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton. Once equipment and staff were in place there, rangers quickly climbed to various areas on the Grand Teton where the injured people were located. As they reached the separate climbing parties, they provided emergency medical care and prepared the injured people for evacuation from the mountain. The 16 climbers all received lightning-related injuries—burns and varying levels of neurological problems—as they were indirectly affected by an electrical charge from one or more lightning strikes. The rescue mission continued in the midst of rain squalls, thick clouds and additional thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and evening hours of Wednesday. The rescue operation involved a sequential evacuation of the 16 climbers. Two climbers reached the Lower Saddle on their own, but were flown via helicopter to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache. Seven climbers were able to make their way down from a ledge above the Black Ice Couloir at 13,200 feet with the assistance of professional guides from Exum Mountain Guides. The remaining seven climbers, located between 13,300 and 13,600 feet, were reached by rangers and transported via short-haul to the Lower Saddle, where they were treated by an emergency room doctor from St. John’s Medical Center before being placed in a second helicopter to be flown to the to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache on the valley floor. The passage of a late afternoon thunderstorm temporarily delayed the transport of the climbers from the Lower Saddle. As weather conditions improved, the aerial evacuation continued until all the injured persons were delivered to the valley floor and waiting ambulances that then transported them to St. John’s Medical Center. The rescue is one of the largest missions conducted by Grand Teton National Park staff, given the number of injured people, the vertical terrain of the incident and inclement weather conditions. [Submitted by Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]


gimmeslack


Jul 23, 2010, 11:13 AM
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I can only speculate based on my very limited alpine experience. Two issues:

1) I've been on a peak where the storm approached from the opposite side, and was in fact difficult to predict until it was right over me.
2) Based on my only GT summit via Upper Exum, it's a committing route (moreso for a relative noob). e.g. the U-E is moderate in difficulty, but bailing from mid-route would require some veeeery exposed raps in unknown territory. e.g. the rap down to Wall Street from the "open book" pitch, would be a serious undertaking unless you know the terrain really well.

Once committed to the routes, I think most folks would try to climb it out and descend via the OS trade-route raps.


moose_droppings


Jul 23, 2010, 1:22 PM
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My condolences as well to the fallen climbers family and friends. Hope they find peace within.


hacksaw


Jul 23, 2010, 1:45 PM
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moose_droppings wrote:
My condolences as well to the fallen climbers family and friends. Hope they find peace within.

I agree. And many thanks to the GTNP climbing rangers and guides.


welle


Jul 29, 2010, 7:42 AM
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Anyone has an update on the cause of the fall? I read somewhere that the victim was roped in and possibly his rope got cut by a lightning...


hacksaw


Jul 29, 2010, 9:08 AM
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Climbers endure trial by fire, ice
Rangers, guides, pilots, doctors rescue 16 in largest Teton rescue effort ever.


By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: July 28, 2010


Grand Teton National Park rangers are investigating whether 21-year-old Brandon Oldenkamp’s climbing harness was properly attached to his rope when lightning knocked him off the Grand Teton and to his death July 21.

Oldenkamp was the only fatality from an intense storm of snow, hail and rain that shocked and injured 16 others near the summit of the 13,770-foot peak. The fury developed around noon, grew quickly in its intensity, hit the peak with at least six lightning strikes and lasted for more than an hour, rangers said.

In their largest rescue ever, Jenny Lake climbing rangers used a helicopter to pluck seven victims from about 13,200 feet and flew out nine others. The nine-hour marathon involved climbing through waterfalls and lightning, precision flying, evacuation of patients hanging beneath an airship, plus triage and first aid.

In all, 92 emergency workers collaborated in the effort that extended from the rangers’ Lupine Meadows rescue cache at 6,700 feet to near the summit, according to a list provided by the park. The success was marred only by the mystery of Oldenkamp’s disappearance.

Members of his party told rangers he appeared to be securely attached to a rope and on belay when lightning knocked him off the mountain from near the Belly Roll boulder on the Owen-Spalding Route. Rangers are investigating whether the victim might have attached the climbing rope to a gear loop on his harness rather than a point designed to hold body weight.

Ranger Jack McConnell was the first rescuer on scene to hear directly from the party about the fall.

“We lost one over the edge,” he reported them saying.

McConnell and ranger Helen Bowers had climbed to the distressed mountaineers from the 11,650-foot Lower Saddle, where a helicopter landed them at 1:58 p.m. Exum guide Dan Corn accompanied them from a hut-like tent that serves as guides’ high camp.

For the next seven and a half hours, they climbed from one cluster of injured mountaineers to another, assessing each and giving first aid. They directed some to descend, anchored others to the mountain and prepared the seriously injured for “short haul” evacuation beneath a helicopter.

The extent of the carnage wasn’t immediately apparent to rescuers. They first encountered two of the least injured descending from the 13,200-foot Upper Saddle.

“It was kind of confusing,” Bowers said of the initial reports.

Climber Steve Tyler made the first cell phone call at 12:24 p.m., perhaps 15 minutes after what’s thought to have been the largest lightning strike.

That call reported a party of five in trouble and injured by lightning. Then came a report of perhaps four more from a different party hurt on the Exum Ridge. Then another seven — plus one missing.

“There were people all over the mountain,” said Jim Springer, rescue coordinator at the Lupine Meadows rescue cache on the valley floor. When the totality of the disaster unfolded, “I had to basically stop and take a deep breath.”

He summoned all the emergency helpers he could, including a second helicopter from Yellowstone National Park and ambulances from Jackson and Teton County. Finally, “there was nobody else to call,” he said.

In all, there were 18 climbers in three parties. Two — the Greg Sparks and Steve Tyler parties — were on the Owen-Spalding Route and had a total of 13 people. The Alan Kline party was on the Exum Ridge and had four.

The effort was dangerous, conducted within safety parameters but worthwhile, rangers said.

“We risked a lot to save a lot,” head rescue ranger Scott Guenther said.

As McConnell, Bowers and Corn climbed from the Lower Saddle to the Upper Saddle, they found seven members of the Sparks party — the group that had lost Oldenkamp — going down the wrong way. Two members of the group were rappelling down ropes into a gully known as the Idaho Express.

“They had lost one of their climbing members; they were in a confused state,” McConnell said. “They had been hit by lightning.”

All could move, however, and McConnell directed guide Corn to usher the group to the proper descent. The two who had gone down the wrong way climbed back up.

“We had priority patients on the upper mountain,” McConnell said.

A helicopter reconnaissance had made the grim picture clear.

Up went Corn and McConnell, as Bowers moved the group toward the Black Rock Chimney. She told them to descend to more rangers who were coming up.

She urged them, while in the chimney, to grab a protruding rock sometimes called “the world’s best handhold.”

“I told them, ‘Touch that and it’s good luck,’” she said.

McConnell and Corn got to the Upper Saddle to find the Owen-Spalding Route a virtual river.

“It was running with water, a gully flusher,” McConnell said.

Above were four remaining members of the Tyler party, including Steve Tyler, 67, who made the first call for help.

The largest lightning strike “the granddaddy of them all,” knocked the group down, Tyler said. He rolled over to see his son-in-law, Troy Smith, seemingly dead.

“His eyes were rolled back and he wasn’t breathing,” Tyler said. Partly paralyzed by the lightning, he said, “all I could do was blow into his mouth. It must have been six breaths when he started to breathe on his own.”

Tyler’s son Mike was below with Tyler’s other son, Dan, who also was injured. Mike Tyler descended for help.

Steve Tyler called with his cell phone three times. Springer, the rescue organizer, recounted one phone conversation with an injured climber.

“It was really cold,” Springer said. “He couldn’t move. There was definitely a sense of desperation in his voice. I just had to be encouraging.”

Ranger McConnell got to Steve Tyler’s party and hailed a greeting.

“How’s it going?” he said he yelled. “Jenny Lake rescue. We’re going to get you off the mountain. Just sit tight.”

McConnell got to one victim.

“He was numb, could not feel his legs from the waist down,” the ranger said.

He and Corn assessed the four climbers who were spread out above and below the Owen Chimney. Rescuers left the lowest — Dan Tyler — anchored to the rock to wait for more rangers.

Above the chimney, the two went to work on Steve Tyler, Troy Smith and Henry Appleton, preparing them for evacuation.

“They all could tell me their name — that, as an emergency provider, puts you at ease,” McConnell said.

A helicopter would evacuate them, McConnell told the group, “if we get a weather window.” He explained how they would put on “screamer suits” — full body harnesses — and how the helicopter would hover above, dangling a line to which they would be attached. It would pick them up and fly them down to the Lower Saddle and other rangers.

“They said ‘screamer suit? What does that mean?’” McConnell said.

“You will be removed from this site via a long line attached to the helicopter and delivered to the Lower Saddle and received by rangers,” he told them using language of the rescuer. “Completely secure” was another phrase he used, along with “the best ride in the Tetons.”

“There was no resistance,” McConnell said. “They wanted to press the easy button and get out of there.”

At 4:48 p.m., the park rescue ship piloted by Matt Heart plucked Smith and Appleton off the peak and flew them to the Lower Saddle. The airship brought the two harness suits back to the site before weather closed in and flights stopped.

McConnell and Corn tossed one suit down to rangers Marty Vidak and Drew Hardesty, who were with Dan Tyler. The ranger and guide then walked Steve Tyler about 150 feet to the top of the normal Owen-Spalding descent rappel. They lowered him directly to the Upper Saddle and flat ground where Bowers had stopped to collect victims and coordinate movements. They rappelled to that spot to wait out the next storm.

“Unfortunately, we had to leave Marty and Drew behind with the other patient,” McConnell said. “He was as injured as anybody.”

The two rangers and Dan Tyler were left exposed on the upper mountain as more lightning and rain hit the peak. Just two rope lengths away, McConnell, Corn, Steve Tyler and Bowers were huddled in a large cave, hoping they wouldn’t get shocked.

Meanwhile, Alan Kline, Matt Walker and Elizabeth Smith had made their own way off the Exum Ridge to the Upper Saddle. They had been the highest party on the mountain and were shocked at least four times.

“I just remember screaming in pain,” Walker said. “One of the images burned in my brain is looking at my friends and seeing the anguish in their faces.”

Lightning burned Walker in several places, and he couldn’t use his right foot. Smith couldn’t grip a rope. They sent partner Andrew Larson down for help.

Kline, a certified mountain guide on a busman’s holiday, took charge.

He lowered Smith, while Walker hobbled and rappelled. They moved down the summit pyramid and found the anchors for the final rappel to the Upper Saddle and relative safety.

“I saw a lot of resilience,” Bowers said of the Kline party. “They had taken the initiative to get themselves off. They were wet, they were injured and they were tired. They smelled like burned flesh and hair.”

One member of the party, Walker said, lost a finger in the incident. When he reached Bowers, he collapsed.

“All my emotions washed over me and I broke down,” Walker said.

The trial wasn’t over, however. At the Upper Saddle, yet another bolt shocked McConnell.

“It felt like somebody punched me in my hand, through my arm and out the elbow,” he said. “The Upper Saddle is not a safe place to be. There’s [historically] a lot of singeing of mittens and raised eyebrows.”

Approximately two hours later, the weather cleared enough so the Grand Teton rescue helicopter could return for Dan Tyler at the base of the Owen Chimney. Pilot Heart lifted him off the peak at 6:45 p.m.

Two minutes before 7 p.m., the ship returned for two of Kline’s Exum Ridge group. At 7:15 p.m., Heart picked up Steve Tyler and the last patient from the Exum Ridge team, landing them at the Lower Saddle.

There, medical doctor A.J. Wheeler had taken over the Exum tent hut as an emergency and triage room. After seeing patients there, he ordered them to one of the airships for the flight to the valley floor rescue cache.

At 7:56 p.m., the last climber landed at the Lupine Meadows cache. One helicopter then searched the bottom of the West Face that evening, but spotters saw no sign of Oldenkamp.

Three rangers stayed on the Lower Saddle that night. They found his body the next day.

All five climbers admitted to St. John’s Medical Center on July 21 were discharged during the weekend, officials there said. One patient flown to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls also has been discharged.

Springer said that while most thunderstorms occur in the afternoon, it is “not rare” for them to bloom earlier.

“Seasoned climbers will retreat at signs of building clouds,” he said. All three parties “were going up in the face of deteriorating weather,” Springer said. Among each, there was talk of sitting the storms out, he said.

Sparks’ party, of which Oldenkamp was a member, started that morning from the moraine camping zone just below the Lower Saddle; the other two groups had camped at the saddle.

Six Exum Mountain Guides employees climbed to the summit the morning of the storm with 12 clients, most via the Exum Ridge and the latest reaching the top at 9:15 a.m.

One more Exum guide attempting to climb the peak with a client in a day turned back in the face of weather from just above the Lower Saddle at 10:30 a.m., Exum guides said. A Jackson Hole Mountain Guides employee was on the summit pyramid with a client but retreated, saying, “If we continue from here, it will be very risky,” rangers said.

The storm moved in with wind, rain and snow, to begin with. Climbers said they saw a break and blue skies after an initial pulse. The two groups on the Owen-Spalding Route turned back before they were hit. Walker’s party on the Exum Ridge was stalled by the first weather, then hit by the big storm.

“We thought it would go south of us, but it kind of crept up on us,” Walker said.

He said his partners don’t think they would have been any better off if they had tried to retreat earlier, as they would have been caught by the storm at the rappel.

Steve Tyler, a Provo, Utah, resident who first climbed the Grand in 1966, said he remembers that summer not making the summit on his first attempt.

“Another party waited it out,” he said. “They got it and we didn’t. They waited it out and we didn’t.”

He said that has colored his perspective. A lifelong climber, he said he had a rule of thumb to not change plans with forecasts of 20 percent to 30 percent chance of thunderstorms.

“I may lower that standard a bit,” he said.

— Kelsey Dayton and Kevin Huelsmann contributed to this story. For more coverage from this incident, see the July 28, 2010 edition of the Jackson Hole News&Guide.


welle


Jul 30, 2010, 1:08 PM
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Re: [hacksaw] Grand Teton rangers rescuing 16 mountain climbers [In reply to]
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Thanks for posting this. Crazy complicated ordeal! Not sure if I would have chosen flying out in the suit - sounds scarier than down climbing. Kudos to the more experienced team for down climbing on their own!


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