Grand Teton National Park Warns Visitors of ‘Significant Hazardous Rockfall’ in Lower Saddle

by Amy Myers

While adventurers gathered at national parks to celebrate the country’s 246th birthday, Grand Teton warned visitors not to venture too close to the Lower Saddle during their weekend activities. On July 3rd, there was a “significant hazardous rockfall” in the area that made it dangerous for climbers to explore the popular attraction.

Jenny Lake District Ranger Scott Guenther further stated that the rocks that fell may have even damaged the fixed line. This is a crucial feature for climbers and backcountry users. Park officials stated that this area has been a common spot for rockfalls in the past.

Warmer temperatures have melted some of the area’s snowfall, softening the ground and effectively causing it to shift. Unfortunately, once one rockfall occurs, future events are more likely to take place as well. As a result, the national park has to take extra care to ensure adventurers are safely using the area. Ultimately, though, it is up to the hikers and climbers to ensure their own safety.

On Instagram, the national park gave followers a run-down of the events that led to the Lower Saddle’s unsafe conditions.

“Climbers: On July 3rd, significant hazardous rockfall occurred at the fixed line on the approach to the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton,” the park announced on Monday. “Melting snow may continue to pose a hazard in this area. Pay close attention to changing conditions and move through this zone as quickly as possible.”

Along with the update, the park posted a photo of the area that seems to have plenty of loose scree and rocks along the slope.

Grand Teton National Park Downgrades Safety Advisory

The national park has since given frequent updates regarding the area. Officials have been closely monitoring the Lower Saddle to ensure that the ground is stable for climbers. On Monday, park rangers ventured to the area to further assess the conditions. Meanwhile, climbing rangers and mountain guides evacuated adventurers in surrounding areas that may be in danger as more snow melts and potentially lead to a repeat event.

Following the rescue and evacuation efforts, though, the Lower Saddle was pretty uneventful, which led Grand Teton Chief of Staff Jeremy Barnum to reinstate the area’s availability. Still, he warned that adventurers will still need to stay alert for any warning signs of a repeat rockfall.

“We are no longer asking people to not approach the Lower Saddle,” Grand Teton Chief of Staff Jeremy Barnum said in a Monday evening text to Jackson Hole News and Guides. “However we are advising climbers that melting snow may continue to pose a hazard in this area. Climbers should pay close attention to changing conditions and move through this zone as quickly as possible.”