Citation Issued for Grand Teton Rescue Triggered by SPOT Locator Device

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Date: September 29, 2011
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3431

Grand Teton National Park rangers finalized an investigation stemming from a search and rescue response in August that was initiated by the activation of a SPOT rescue locator. Dave Shade, 33, from Missoula, Montana was issued a citation because his actions that day created a hazardous situation during a late-hour rescue operation to retrieve his stranded climbing partner, Jesse Selwyn of Florence, Michigan. Shade was charged with disorderly conduct.

On Friday, August 19, Shade and Selwyn intended to climb the Black Ice Couloir on the northwest side of the Grand Teton; however, the two climbers could not find the entrance to the couloir and got off route, ending up on the Grandstand. After an extended discussion about how to proceed, Selwyn informed Shade that he felt he was unable to continue. Selwyn said that he believed he would become injured or die if he attempted to retrace the route they had come. He then told Shade that he was going to call for a rescue by activating the SPOT rescue locator that he was carrying. Until that time, Shade did not know that Selwyn was carrying the device.

Selwyn then activated the device and Grand Teton National Park Rangers were notified. After rangers hovered over the scene in a Teton Interagency helicopter and Selwyn signaled that he desired a rescue, Shade told Selwyn that he (Shade) did not need to be rescued. Further discussion ensued and ultimately, Shade left with the party's climbing rope, made four rappels and then began to retrace his route to the Valhalla Traverse. Shade made this decision before confirming that rangers were indeed going to return to rescue Selwyn.

The citation was issued because Shade assumed a rescue would occur and left his partner, taking their only climbing rope. Shade's decision created a hazardous condition for Selwyn, since at this point there was no guarantee of rescue. Selwyn was reached by Rangers that night, and was extracted via short-haul with darkness imminently approaching.  

Climbers are reminded that pursuing these activities requires a high level of personal accountability and responsibility. There is no guarantee of your safety or rescue when climbing or traveling in the backcountry.   

Disorderly conduct is a violation under the Code of Federal Regulations 36§2.34(a)(4).

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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