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Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park (4) Teewinot

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park (4), Teewinot—On August 7, Yvon Chouinard (21) and Robert Kamps were attempting the north face of the Crooked Thumb on Teewinot Mountain. Chouinard was leading an overhang using direct aid and one rope. After completion of the overhang he found that the friction on the rope was making further movement impossible. The remainder of the lead involved free climbing with very little protection, and no cracks. Chouinard was four feet below a belay position and thirty feet above his last piton. He grabbed a loose handhold and fell. Two pitons pulled out. A rope sling held. At the time of the fall the belayer had three feet of rope left. Chouinard fell a total of 160 feet. Because the face was overhanging, he hit the rock only once and ended in mid-air. He suffered only minor scratches and a long cut below the left knee which required stitches in the skin and muscle. Chouinard descended the mountain under his own power. He has since made a complete recovery.

Source: Park Ranger John C. Fonda, via Frank R. Oberhansley, Superintendent, G.T.N.P.

Analysis (GTNP): This fall was caused by a loose handhold and the restraining effect of the rope resulting from friction through snaplinks. Chouinard escaped serious injury only because the face was overhanging. He was, however, wearing a wide belt band of one-inch sling material. This conceivably cushioned the effect of the fall around his waist. An additional rope to avoid excessive friction and special care in testing handholds would probably have prevented the fall.