American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Wyoming—Wind River Range, Warbonnet Peak

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1954

Wyoming—Wind River Range, Warbonnet Peak: On August 11, 1953, Kent Bollinger (28), Gauray Yodh, and Tom Nathan left the Chicago Mountaineering Club climbing camp in the Wind River at 8:30 a.m. to climb the east side of Warbonnet Peak. The original plan had been to traverse the bottom of the east face to the southeast ridge and then scramble up the southeast ridge. Because the east face looked so tempting they changed their plans and decided to ascend the east face to the north ridge. The first two-thirds of the east face above the saddle between the east pinnacle and the east face was not difficult and was climbed by 3:00 p.m. At this point the climbing became quite difficult and exposed. About 80 feet below the north ridge, Bollinger climbed an easy route to the ridge and was out of sight on the other side from Yodh who was belaying him. As Bollinger was taking in some slack he fell and was checked by Yodh’s belay. He was then hanging 40 feet below the ridge on the west face while Yodh was about 70 feet down the east face. Yodh called without receiving an answer. Suddenly the extreme tension on the rope was released. Yodh pulled in about 5 to 6 feet of the rope before it stuck. He then brought up Nathan and went out to investigate. He found that Bollinger had fallen out of his rope and that the knot had jammed into a crack. (This hypothesis seemed to be correct since the shirt and jacket were pulled straight over Bollinger’s arms which were outstretched over his head when his body was found the next day.) Yodh and Nathan then started down the west face of Warbonnet looking for Bollinger and were finally forced to bivouac about 300 feet down, above the junction of the chutes of Hans, Felix, and Rod where they were located by the rescue party the following day.

Source: Guaray Yodh’s report; Paul Stettner.

Analysis: The party changed its plans and chose a more severe route than anticipated and for which it was not properly constituted. After the fall too much time elapsed before investigating the reason for Bollinger’s silence and immobility. Bollinger’s rope passed high around his chest and over one shoulder with the knot in the armpit. This method, according to Bollinger and others, is the new way of tying in the leader in the Alps. It is obvious that this method of tying in was not adequate to protect Bollinger in this fall and unless improved, should not be used.

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