Snowboarder Killed By Fall At Grand Teton National Park

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Teewinot Mountain rises well over 5,000 feet from the valley floor near Lupine Meadows in Grand Teton National Park./NPS file photo

An Alaska man who was snowboarding with friends in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park has died in the wake of a 1,500 tumbling fall in the park.

Park officials say Joseph Lohr, 24, of Anchorage, and two friends had summited 12,325-foot Teewinot Mountain in the national park Monday morning and were descending when he fell.

Mr. Lohr’s partners called for help via cellphone soon after they reached their friend, who was unconscious but breathing on a steep slope of Teewinot’s eastern flank, a park release said.

Upon receiving the emergency call, park rangers mobilized a response and summoned a helicopter from Ogden, Utah, to assist with the rescue. A "hasty team" of rangers skied 3,000 vertical feet up the eastern flank of Teewinot Mountain to reach the injured snowboarder and assist with emergency medical care while preparing him for transport. When the helicopter arrived around 3 p.m., snow squalls, high winds and low visibility prevented an aerial rescue attempt, the release said.

Mr. Lohr died from his injuries at 4 p.m., not long after park rangers arrived on scene.

One park ranger assisted the man’s companions to the valley floor, while the remaining rescue personnel used a litter, ropes, and pulleys to move the Mr. Lohr’s body to a less hazardous area down the mountain slope. Due to hazardous snow conditions and waning light, rescuers secured the rescue litter on the mountain for the evening and returned to the valley floor approximately 10 p.m. Rescuers returned to the mountain on Tuesday morning to retrieve Mr. Lohr’s body, park officials said.

Although most recently a resident of Salt Lake City, Mr. Lohr was in the process of moving to Jackson. His parents happened to be in the valley on a visit and were present for much of the park’s rescue effort on Monday and recovery mission on Tuesday. According to his father, Mr. Lohr and his companions were all experienced backcountry snowboarders/skiers, who knew how to handle themselves well in such mountainous terrain.

The snowboarder was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Teewinot Mountain is a popular destination for both backcountry skiers and climbers. The mountain contains several steep snowfields that can present a challenge to those who seek to explore them. Rangers remind backcountry users to be prepared for the unexpected and carry appropriate emergency gear. Inclement weather, access to rescue aircraft, and mountain conditions—such as an unstable snowpack—may prevent a timely rescue, and backcountry users must be prepared to take care of themselves, first and foremost in the event of an emergency situation.

Mr. Lohr became the first backcountry fatality of the 2014 season in the park.