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Teton Rescues Aided And Hindered By Technology

Bob Hoyle, National Park Service

A rescued snowboarder at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort inadvertently went out-of-bounds Friday.   Grand Teton Officials say that Steven Sprague of South Dakota didn’t hear warnings from his friends as they called to him, because he was listening to his Ipod.

“Modern technology, in this instance, an Ipod and ear plugs being in, prevented him from being able to hear.  Probably also  distracted him and prevented him from  knowing where he was going.”

Grand Teton spokesperson, Jackie Skaggs, says there’s ongoing debate as to the positives and negatives of technology in the wilderness.  In this case  Sprague skied out of bounds at around 4:30 that afternoon found himself stranded and couldn’t get back.  When he realized he’d likely  be spending the night he began building a fire, but Skaggs says he was ill prepared for a night in the cold.

“He didn’t have extra clothing, extra gear.  He didn’t have food or water with him so it could have been a very serious outcome to this  inadvertent mistake that he made.”

Ski-patrollers located Sprague and got him out at around 10:30 that evening.

At about the same time on Friday rescuers were notified by cell phone of two lost sno-shoers. In a positive application of technology rescuers were able to talk and guide the two men from Minnesota to a point where they were met and escorted out of the backcountry.

Skaggs says backcountry users are cautioned to be prepared to spend more time than you anticipate. Bring extra clothing, high energy snacks and water and bring a map of the area and know how to use.

“You need to be aware of your surroundings pay attention to the time of day.  Both of these situations happened late in the day and required that  both of these parties ended up being in the dark in the back country before we could get them out.”

Rangers also stress the importance of checking avalanche and weather conditions before heading out

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