“No one ever thinks anything will happen.” The comment belongs to Scott
Birkenfield, a climbing ranger in the Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National
Park, Wyoming. His voice sounds tired and scratchy as he recounts the events
of the day. Last evening, a hiker slipped in a high talus field and fell 30
feet. His partner went for help. Sometime before midnight Birkenfield got the
call, and as in 1,000 cases before, he methodically asked the questions. Who?
What? Where? When? Is he allergic to anything? What was his mental condition
when you left? Was he bleeding? Is he warm?
Just after midnight, Birkenfield woke up Climbing Ranger Jim Springer. In a
matter of minutes, Springer was heading up the trail prepared to save a man’s