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Climber rescued after boulder falls on his arm

A Jackson man had to be rescued by helicopter yesterday after a large boulder dislodged and rolled over his arm.

Tucker Zibilich, 26, of Jackson, Wyoming and his partner were climbing down from the Upper Saddle of the Grand Teton when the boulder fell on and severely injured Zibilich’s arm.

Due to nature of Zibilich’s injury, and concern about attempting to hike him downslope over steep and rocky terrain to reach the Grand Teton’s broad and somewhat flat Lower Saddle for an aerial evacuation, a decision was made to use the Teton Interagency contract helicopter to instead short-haul Zibilich directly from his high elevation site on the Grand Teton to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache on the valley floor.

Whenever a helicopter is used to evacuate an injured person(s) from the Teton backcountry, it is preferable to fly the patient inside the ship. Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual is suspended below the helicopter on a 100 to 200 foot rope. This method is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter because of the rugged and precipitous terrain.

Zibilich was flown suspended below the ship—and in tandem with an attending ranger—directly to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at Lupine Meadows. He was then transferred to a waiting park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

It appears that Zibilich stepped on and dislodged several small boulders during his descent, which in turn loosened a large boulder and allowed it to roll over his arm. Because they were pursuing just a day hike to the Upper Saddle—and not attempting a technical climb—Zibilich and his partner did not have climbing ropes or harnesses with them. They did have helmets at the time of the incident.


Information provided by National Park Service

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