Illustration: Peter Strain/Outside Online
In recent weeks a heated, long-running debate about personal responsibility in the mountains shot to the surface. It began when a group of skiers and snowboarders ignored Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s backcountry closure. On February 28, two people in that group got lost in Granite Canyon. Their decision resulted in an overnight rescue. Personnel from three agencies were involved in that rescue, those from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton County Search and Rescue and Grand Teton National Park. Under a breathless black sky, two park rangers rappelled into Granite Canyon through steep avalanche terrain to rescue the lost skier and snowboarder. The following day, a skier-triggered avalanche on Teton Pass shut down the highway and impacted hundreds of commuters. Then, exactly one week after the rescue in Granite Canyon, a skier became lost while trying to ski the popular Rock Springs area outside of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. He too required an overnight rescue.
These events deepened the resonance of a recent story in Outside Online by Drew Hardesty. In “Life, Death and PTSD as a Ranger in the Tetons,” the Jenny Lake climbing ranger details a harrowing rescue on Teewinot and its mental toll.