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Lake Oswego woman recovering after fall in Death Canyon

Lauren McLean is 'very lucky to be alive' after her rope fails in a Grand Teton climb
by: FACEBOOK.COM Shown here in a friend’s photo on Facebook, Lauren McLean, injured in a 25- to 30-foot fall while rock climbing Saturday, poses with a coworker while leading a youth adventure trip this year.

A 25-year-old Lake Oswego woman is recovering from multiple broken bones after she fell from a popular climbing route in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on Saturday.

Lauren McLean, who graduated from West Linn High School in 2004 and lives in Lake Oswego, was scaling a steep cliff in Death Canyon when she fell 25 to 35 feet onto a narrow ledge. Apparently her belay system - securing her in case of a fall - failed.

She landed feet first.

'She was waiting, just hanging onto the rope, and all of a sudden the rope gave way,' her father, Larry McLean, said Tuesday from Salt Lake City, where he traveled to pick up his daughter from the hospital.

According to a park representative, darkness was about to set in Saturday when rangers received a cell phone call from someone in Lauren McLean's climbing party. Rescuers began to devise a plan: They would either wait overnight with her on the ledge and move her in the morning, or they would evacuate her via helicopter before nightfall.

The two park rangers who rappelled to McLean's location decided to go with the latter option, according to park officials.

After about three and a half hours waiting at the cliff's edge, McLean was hoisted aboard a helicopter and flown to a nearby dude ranch, where an ambulance was waiting to take her to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson. She was then flown to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City for additional treatment.

Meanwhile, her climbing partners hiked out of Death Canyon.

Larry McLean said some of his daughter's friends drove to the hospital from Wyoming and were helping him retrieve his daughter's car so he could drive her back to Lake Oswego this week.

'She's doing great,' he said. 'It could have been a lot worse. She's very lucky to be alive.'

Still, he said his daughter will have casts on both of her ankles for 90 days, and she also suffered damage to her pelvis and back in the fall.

But he doesn't believe the incident will dampen her adventurous spirit.

Lauren McLean graduated in May from University of Montana in Missoula. Over the summer, she worked as a youth leader for Wilderness Ventures in Jackson Hole, Wyo., leading outdoor adventure trips - kayaking in the San Juan Islands, climbing Washington's Mount Adams and Oregon's South Sister and camping on Mount Rainier, to name a few. With the trip season over, she had gone to the Teton Range to do some free climbing with a few friends.

'She's a real outdoor lover,' Larry McLean said. 'She's an outdoor nut.'