Accidental alert leads to Grotto Falls search

Posted at 12:54 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 14:54:28-05

BOZEMAN - Gallatin County Search and Rescue Volunteers, along with a Life Flight Network aircrew searched for an ice climber near Grotto Falls on Wednesday - but the search was sparked by an accidental alert from one of the climber's GPS device.

According to a release, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022, Gallatin County Dispatch received a call from a concerned citizen. The caller reported receiving a message from a friend’s GPS device that an incident had occurred. The caller provided GPS coordinates of the last known location of the device. The caller believed the friend was ice climbing. The location was plotted near popular ice climbing routes at Grotto Falls in Hyalite Canyon.

Gallatin County Search and Rescue Volunteers, along with a Life Flight Network aircrew, responded to the Grotto Falls Trailhead. A vehicle belonging to the friend was located at the trailhead. Two Volunteer teams were deployed on trails leading towards the GPS coordinates. Volunteers made contact with several individuals in the area who provided a clothing description of the friend. Volunteers on the trails were unable to locate the friend or anyone in distress. A Drone Team was also deployed to the area. The Drone Team was able to locate ice climbers that matched descriptions of the friend provided by individuals in the area. The climbers were actively climbing a route in the area. The climbers did not seem in distress and seemed to be ascending normally. Volunteers returned to the trailhead and left the area.

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A Deputy received a call from the climber a short time later. The climber confirmed that the activation was accidental and there was no emergency. The climber also confirmed that they were one of the individuals observed by the drone team.

Sheriff Dan Springer would like to encourage citizens to carry a means of communicating while recreating in the backcountry and to let someone know where they are going. In this case, the person recreating had a communication device and told someone where they were going making the search area defined resulting in a more timely response from rescuers.

Photos courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.