The Jenny Lake Rangers are Grand Teton National Park’s team of elite search and rescue professionals, tasked with protecting resources and visitors in the park’s vast backcountry. Among a number of responsibilities, the rangers walk trails, interact with visitors, assess alpine route conditions, and provide general resource protection in the park. Although search and rescue is their primary function and responsibility, it only accounts for about ten-percent of their time, so rangers will drop everything else to respond to someone in need. And drop everything is what they’ve done over 240 times in the past three years for everything from sprained ankles on hiking trails to lightning strikes high in the peaks. Their partnership with expert helicopter pilots brings speed and agility to remote rescue operations, completing rescue missions in hours instead of days.
What does this strategic partnership with expert helicopter pilots mean for rangers and remote rescues in Grand Teton National Park? You may have heard of the term “short-haul” in the context of these mountain rescues. Short-hauling is a helicopter rescue technique that flies rescuers into steep, alpine areas by attaching them to a rope anchored to the bottom of the aircraft.
Weather conditions permitting, short-hauling provides rangers with the ability to reach people in mere minutes instead of the hours it might take to reach a patient on foot.Although extremely efficient by drastically cutting critical rescue times, dangling hundreds of feet below a helicopter while flying through canyons and near high peaks doesn’t come without risk. The Jenny Lake Rangers complete short-haul trainings ten times during the summer season and push themselves to practice in highly technical areas, knowing that when someone is severely injured, confidence in not only their short-haul but their rope work, wheeled litter, aviation, and rigging for rescue skills are non-negotiable.
As May winds to a close, Jenny Lake District Ranger Scott Guenther, the thirteen-year veteran leader of these remarkable Jenny Lake Rangers, will officially hang up his helmet after an incredible three decades with Grand Teton National Park. Throughout the course of his tenure, he’s worked tirelessly to help the park's search and rescue team successfully execute hundreds of rescues, providing injured and lost visitors with the support they needed and ultimately saving countless lives. Scott has been a tremendous partner and friend to us at the Foundation and we’re truly grateful for the opportunity to work with him over the years. Read more at the JHN&G HERE.
Grand Teton National Park Foundation has proudly supported the Jenny Lake Rangers since 2018. We provide funding for the highly specialized trainings they conduct mentioned earlier; state-of-the-art equipment; public outreach and education; and mental health support services. To learn more and support this essential team today, visit https://www.gtnpf.org/jenny-lake-rangers/.