Climbing is a tricky thing, even for the most experienced. And when you opt to solo a route, well, the odds lengthen, as a Washington man can attest after needing to be hauled via helicopter off Middle Teton at Grand Teton National Park.
Eric Rohner, 27, had plenty of time to think about his predicament, as he had to spend the night on the side of the peak before rangers could rescue him.
The Olympia, Washington, man had intended a solo summit of the Middle Teton on Monday, but he wound up "cliffing out" -- nowhere to go safely up or down. So he got as comfortable as he could get, pulled out his cell phone, and called for help around 1 a.m. Tuesday.
"The call was received by Teton Valley, Idaho and transferred to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center in Grand Teton National Park. The ranger who was scheduled to coordinate rescues on Monday was able to communicate directly with Rohner via cell phone and determine that he had enough food and water, as well as appropriate gear and extra clothing, to spend the night on the Middle Teton," notes Grand Teton spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles.
"Rescue operations began at 4:30 Tuesday morning as two rangers started hiking at first light," she said.
But finding Mr. Rohner was not easily done. The rangers on foot couldn't see the man, and had to rely on spotters in a Teton Interagency contract helicopter that was scheduled to be at Lupine Meadows for short-haul training that day to locate him.
During a 10:15 a.m. flight, rangers and the helicopter pilot determined the best rescue plan was to short-haul Rohner -- dangle him in a sling attached to a rope below the helicopter -- from his precarious location to a landing zone in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. From there, park rangers escorted Rohner down the canyon.
Though he needed to be rescued from his perch, rangers said Mr. Rohner made good decisions once he realized his predicament: he hunkered down, called for help, followed rescuer instructions, and was prepared to spend an unexpected night having brought extra food, water, and clothing.
The Middle Teton is viewed as having a relatively straightforward route to a high summit, park officials note. However, it is imperative that climbers attempting the summit have good route finding skills, pay attention to where they are, and follow the directions of park rangers, they add.
Tempting shortcuts and a lack of attention, among other factors, have resulted in a need for numerous rescue operations on this peak.
This was the third major search and rescue in the mountain for summer 2012.