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Searchers find climber's body on Grand Teton

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rescue workers have recovered the body of a climber who fell from a cliff when a thunderstorm struck his climbing party on an exposed mountainside in Grand Teton National Park

Park officials say searchers in a helicopter found the body of 21-year-old Brandon Oldenkamp, of Sanborn, Iowa, Thursday morning and were able to remove his body by the afternoon.

Oldenkamp was climbing with six other people when he fell about 2,000 feet during the midday storm on Wednesday. Authorities don't know whether he died from a lightning strike or the fall.

Teams Wednesday used helicopters to rescue 16 injured climbers in three separate groups from elevations above 13,000 feet on Grand Teton mountain.

Park officials say the 16 suffered moderate to severe lightning-related injuries.

During Wednesday's rescue, helicopters took the 16 climbers first to a temporary shelter on a mountain saddle at 11,600 feet and then down to an operations base on the valley floor and waiting ambulances, park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.

The surviving climbers' identities and hometowns weren't available, Skaggs said. Their injuries were the result of being struck by lightning — either directly or indirectly — and included burns and neurological effects such as numbness.

Nine climbers were taken to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, said hospital spokeswoman Karen Connelly.

The hospital discharged three of the patients and transported a fourth to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for treatment of potentially serious injuries.

Connelly said some of the rescued climbers had declined to go to the hospital.

Skaggs said one of the groups was only 100 feet below the summit of Grand Teton mountain when the storm struck. Another was 400 feet down and the third about 570 feet down, she said.

In 2003, a climber died from a lightning strike on the Grand Teton.