Grand Teton National Park Rangers, pilot rescue climber from Grand Teton
By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyoming
July 7, 2012
Grand Teton National Park rangers and a helicopter pilot rescued a climber near the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton on Thursday after falling rocks hit and hurt him.
The pilot of the Teton Interagency helicopter dodged clouds to fly David Perlman, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., off the 11,650-foot high saddle to the valley floor. A park ambulance then took him to St. John’s Medical Center.
The pilot flew a route that took the helicopter south to Buck Mountain from where it followed an unconventional path to the saddle, Park spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said.
“It was a tense rescue just because of the weather conditions,” she said. Much of Thursday was overcast and rainy.
“He sustained pretty significant injuries,” Anzelmo-Sarles said. His condition was not available Friday afternoon.
Perlman was on a guided climb and approaching the saddle when the rocks hit him. No technical climbing is required in the area, but a fixed rope hangs at one steep step for climbers to use as a hand line.
Rangers are uncertain what caused the rocks to tumble, Anzelmo-Sarles said. Initial reports were that the rocks were sizeable and hit Perlman on the portion of the trail just above the hand line.
Members of the man’s party continued to the saddle and alerted rangers there. They, and other climbers at the saddle, helped Perlman and eventually moved him to the saddle.
There, they placed the victim into a rangers’ seasonal hut to wait for the helicopter.
“The use of a Teton Interagency helicopter is a valuable rescue tool that can allow quick, direct, and efficient access to an injured person,” park officials said in a statement describing the incident. “However, the use of a helicopter is not always guaranteed.”
Had the helicopter not been able to land, rangers would have had to carry Perlman down some 4,000 feet.
— Mike Koshmrl contributed to this report.