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Wyoming—Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming—Grand Teton National Park (2): James B. Ayer and Robert Saltonstall both 41 started a climb from Hidden Falls at 1 P. M. on Saturday, August 16, 1952. They both wore rubber soled boots, and carried an extra sweater and chocolate. They had no climbing rope since their topographical map showed no steep pitches along their proposed route. In about two hours they reached the saddle between Symmetry Spire and Ice Point by the eastern slope. They did not climb either of these peaks and after a rest they checked their map and started down the westerly slope which appeared to provide the safest route. The descent occupied about an hour and brought them to a point where they could look south across a valley through which the Lake Solitude Trail ran. The route narrowed down to a falls-like cliff in front, a steep high cliff to the left and a less steep one to the right with trees beyond. They started across the right- hand steep face by separate routes. It was about 50-75 feet across to trees and bushes. Mr. Ayer started working his way along a ledge with small trees below him. Mr. Ayer called, “the hand holds are good here,” and when Saltonstall looked down and slightly ahead, he saw Mr. Ayer’s body fall away from the cliff. He did not utter a word. His body tumbled down a steep rock face before it came to rest in a large rocky crevice. His total fall was estimated to be between 200 and 300 feet. Saltonstall tried to reach the body but failed. He attracted the attention of some people passing, who notified the park rangers. The mountain rescue squad arrived about 8 P. M. and helped Saltonstall to descend and brought down Mr. Ayers’ body.

Source: Mr. Robert Saltonstall, and report from Grand Teton National Park.

Analysis: The exact cause is not clear but a broken handhold seems to be the most likely explanation.