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Grand Teton Park officials: Know your skill level

Outdoors

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Jackson Hole | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

MOOSE, Wyo. – After multiple search and rescue calls in the backcountry this weekend, Grand Teton National Park officials have a message: know your skill level.

Not meant as an insult but as a precaution to hikers and climbers, knowing skill level and the risks associated with mountainous terrain can prevent injuries and emergencies.

“Please be prepared especially if you’re going into water. If you’re going into the backcountry, if you’re hiking whatever it may be make sure that you are prepared and that you’ve planned your experience,” Grand Teton National Park Public Affairs Officer Denise Germann tells EastIdahoNews.com

This weekend between Friday and Sunday, dispatch received calls of an injured hiker located in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. A 28-year-old woman, Nergui Enkhchineg, of Mongolia, slipped on snow and rocks approximately 100 feet. She sustained significant injuries. Through a 911 text and help from anther party using a backcountry app, responders were able to find the hikers, and the Teton Interagency Helicopter responded to the scene.

“People get so excited about hiking the backcountry or climbing in the backcountry, but they fail to realize specific skills that are needed, and sometimes we don’t have those skills at a particular time, and you might want to reroute yourself,” Germann says.

On top of that, dispatch received two additional calls of a stranded hiker and a visitor with a medical emergency on a backcountry campsite.

Grand Teton National Park has 70 to 80 search and rescue incidents annually.

Germann says if your skill level isn’t comparable to the experience, planning to do the hike the following year could be a smart move. She says making sure you have the right tools and equipment — and knowing how to use the equipment beforehand — is essential for a safe trip.

She says downloading backcountry apps can be beneficial, but ultimately hikers need to rely on their own knowledge. Before embarking on an adventure in the Grand Teton area, always stop and talk to a ranger, and use up-to-date guidebooks and maps to prepare, Germann says.

“If you’re going into the backcountry, we highly encourage you to talk to the rangers at Jenny Lake,” Germann says. “They’re there to help you specifically with climbing and hiking in the backcountry, but you can stop at any visitor’s center.”

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