American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Near Summit of the Grand Teton

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1958

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, near summit of the Grand Teton— On August 21, at about 10:10 A.M., Joseph W. Keubler (20), was fatally injured in a climbing accident near the summit of the Grand Teton. He was leading the climbing party and was accompanied by James B. Kelly (19) and Donald DuBois (20). Neither of his companions was injured in the accident.

From information obtained from his companions, it appears that Kuebler was leading a 40 foot pitch within 200 feet of the summit of the Grand Teton on the ascent by the Exum route. The accident occurred some 25 feet to the east of the normal route. As Kuebler reached the top of this section of rock, his feet or hands slipped and he fell down the steep wall, landing near the location of his two companions. The fatal injury either occurred as he fell or when he struck the ledge at the base of the pitch. The party was roped together and Kuebler was near the end of his rope when the accident occurred.

After his companions determined that he was dead, they immediately descended the peak by the Owen route and reported the accident to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station at about 7 P.M.

The National Park rescue team was assembled and started for the scene of the accident with rescue equipment at 9 P.M. The rescue team climbed throughout the night and reached the scene of the accident at 11:00 A.M. the next day. The descent of the rescue team with the body down the Owen route was completed by 11:00 P.M. the night of August 22.

Source: Frank R. Oberhansley, superintendent and Doug McLaren, Ranger, G.T.N.P.

Analysis: Attempting to ascend a class 5 friction pitch without the experience needed. It is not certain exactly what caused the fall. However, it appears that it was a slip of the feet or hands or possibly both.

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