Salt Lake City Woman Injured During Descent From Grand Teton In Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park climbing rangers performed a rescue similar to this one on Thursday to rescue a Salt Lake City woman injured while descending from the Grand Teton. NPS photo.

A Salt Lake City woman had to be airlifted off the Grand Teton in Grand Teton National Park after breaking several bones while descending from the summit.

Forty-six-year-old Merry Carny was injured while rappelling on her way down from the Upper Saddle of the mountain. Park officials say she was unable to maintain friction on her climbing rope and slid about 50 feet before landing on her feet. When she landed, according to park officials, the woman, who was not wearing a climbing helmet, fell backwards and slammed to the ground.

Along with breaking both bones in her lower right leg, Mrs. Carny suffered some broken ribs.

The woman and her husband had summited the 13,770-foot Grand Teton about 12:30 p.m. Thursday via the Exum Ridge route and were heading back down to their camp when she was injured.

The Carnys were descending the standard rappel near the Upper Saddle when the accident occurred. The rappel in question involves about a 100-foot free decent during which climbers must maintain friction on their climbing rope to control their descent.

Park officials say Mrs. Carny received injuries to her leg, side and back, and was unable to continue climbing. The couple used their cell phone to report their situation; however, because of their location on the Grand Teton, the call was received by the Driggs, Idaho, sheriff’s office.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received notice of the accident at 1:30 p.m., and park rangers immediately summoned an interagency contract helicopter to assist with the rescue effort.

Three park rangers were transported by the contract helicopter to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton, and one of those rangers was then inserted into the accident site via short-haul. Two additional rangers were flown by helicopter to the Lower Saddle along with necessary rescue equipment, and a second ranger was also inserted by short-haul into the accident site.

Mrs. Carny received emergency medical care by the rangers and placed into a rescue litter for evacuation. She was then flown at 4:45 p.m.—with a ranger accompanying her—directly to the Jenny Lake rescue cache located on the valley floor. A park ambulance transported her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming, for further treatment of her injuries.

The remaining ranger accompanied Mr. Carny as he continued his descent from the Upper Saddle. Upon reaching the Lower Saddle, he too was flown by helicopter to the rescue cache to expedite his ability to join his wife at the hospital.