Grand Teton Epic

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Helicopter rescue ends two-day ordeal for climbersWyoming’s Grand Teton was the scene of an epic rescue on September 1, when park rangers raced to pluck an injured climber from the side of the 13,770-foot mountain. Climber Joe Hestick broke his hip and several ribs in a fall while descending to the peak’s lower saddle with his wife Beth. As night approached, Beth called to mountain guide Jim Williams, camped with clients on the peak’s Lower Saddle, who in turn radioed Park Service rangers for assistance.Racing against darkness, Rick Harmon piloted the park service’s contract helicopter to within 100 feet of Hestick, where ranger Marty Vidak lowered to the scene and prepared Joe for evacuation. Suspended beneath the helicopter, the two were transported to nearby Lupine Meadows, where Hestick was stabilized. He was later moved to St. John’s hospital near Jackson. Hestick currently awaits reconstructive surgery to repair his hip at home in West Virginia. The evacuation ended a grueling two-day saga for the Hesticks that began when they were caught by a raging blizzard while descending from the Grand’s summit. The Hestick’s spent two days huddled in a small cave, rationing their food and drink until a break in the weather on September 1st allowed the pair to begin their descent. Feeling confident with the terrain, Joe failed to rope-up in spite of hazardous conditions and slipped 50 feet on icy terrain while descending via the Owen-Spalding route. “I made a poor choice,” Hestick told the Jackson Hole News and Guide. The Hesticks, who have been climbing collectively for 34 years, told reporters they “generally climb very conservatively.”

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