A volunteer with the Timpanogos Emergency Response Team spent the night on Mt. Timpanogos after he was injured following a slide and fall. A Utah DPS helicopter hoisted him down early this morning.
On Saturday, July 8, at about 5:20 PM, dispatchers with Utah Valley Dispatch received a call from a member of the Timpanogos Emergency Response Team (TERT) reporting one of their members was injured and needed Search And Rescue (SAR). TERT is a volunteer organization with the Utah County Sheriff's Office. During the summer months TERT has members who volunteer to stay on the Mt. Timpanogos on weekends and holidays to provide emergency response for hikers who are lost or injured, or who become ill while hiking. The member, a 25 year old Heber City man, was part of a team who were scouting the Timpanogos trail from the Aspen Grove trailhead. Their goal was to evaluate conditions on the trail in an effort to inform those who were considering climbing Mt. Timpanogos. While the climb in normal conditions is not terribly complicated, it does come with risks. However, with the amount of snow still in place from this past winter, the trail is especially treacherous this summer. Many parts of the trail are still covered with ice and snow, with this condition worse on the trail from Aspen Grove.
As this team was crossing an ice field one of the members lost his footing and slid approximately 100 yards down the mountain on the ice and snow. As the weather warms and the snow melts, much of the melting occurs from the ground up toward the surface. This can create large openings and caverns below the snow. After sliding down the slope the member fell into one of these openings and dropped 30 feet to the mountain below. Another team member used a satellite phone to call 911 as they made their way to their injured team member. They discovered the victim had sustained compound fractures to both of his legs just above his ankles. The TERT members did not have adequate equipment to remove the injured member from the mountain.
Members of the Utah County Sheriff's Office SAR, along with members of North Fork Fire Department at Sundance, responded to the Aspen Grove Trailhead parking lot to assist in the rescue effort. The injured TERT member was at an elevation of about 8,900 feet. Given the difficult terrain and the snow condition SAR contacted LifeFlight with their hoist helicopter in an effort to more quickly rescue the injured team member. When LifeFlight arrived they determined that they were unable to provide the hoist service. Several hours later a helicopter with the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) responded to assist. They said they could help but could not do so at night. SAR volunteers who were with the victim stabilized him and removed him from the cavity below the ice. They did not have to raise him through the opening through which he fell. They were able to move him more horizontally to another opening in the ice cover. From there SAR maneuvered the victim across the snow field. However, because of the difficult conditions they were only able to make slight progress.
After daylight the DPS helicopter flew to the location of the victim. Shortly after 6:00 AM the victim was hoisted from the mountain to the parking lot at the Aspen Grove Trailhead. He was taken to Utah Valley Hospital in Provo where he is undergoing treatment.
SAR officials with the Utah County Sheriff's Office want the public to know that conditions on the trails to Mt. Timpanogos are difficult at best. Snow often covers the trail in normal or low water years. Because of the amount of snowfall this past winter there are wide areas where the trail is completely covered with snow at the higher elevations. Anyone considering climbing Mt. Timpanogos this year should only do so after checking conditions. They should also take with them, at a minimum, an ice axe and crampons. Many of the problems SAR responds to are with people who are unprepared for conditions on the mountain. Dehydration, fatigue, running out of food, and being poorly equipped are among the most common problems people have while hiking Mt. Timpanogos. Having adequate food and water, along with appropriate footwear would reduce many of the problems. This year, however, conditions with snow cover should cause inexperienced climbers to consider hiking elsewhere. Despite the record hot weather in Utah this summer, these conditions, and the amount of snow still on Mt. Timpanogos are likely to continue late into the summer.
For questions contact Sergeant Spencer Cannon, Public Information Officer, Utah County Sheriff's Office. (801)404-1912. Twitter: SGTCannonPIO