Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park (5) Middle Teton Glacier

Publication Year: 1960.

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park (5), Middle Teton Glacier— On August 13, Phillip Martin (21) and Charles E. Jones (21) were ascending the Duke Pinnacle Col. In the upper third of the couloir a

slip occurred. Because of their weight difference (Martin, 120 pounds; Jones, 200 pounds) and because the hardness of the snow made shaft belays uncertain, the party was unroped. Martin reasoned that crampons and an ice ax apiece were sufficient protection. Jones was wearing shorts. Martin did not see Jones slip. He was behind a rocky outcrop. The first indication Martin had of any trouble was Jones’ cry. He turned to see Jones plunging down the couloir feet-first, alternately on his stomach and back. No attempt was made to effect a self arrest. Jones fell approximately 550 feet, swerving into a water-worn channel that led to the exposed scree ledge that stopped him twenty yards from the bergschrund. Martin climbed down to Jones, rendered what first aid he could, and anchored him to the ledge with his ice ax. Jones did not want to be left alone. In this state of mind and in shock he was helped into a pair of long trousers. He would not allow Martin to move his injured leg into the trousers. Later, cold forced Jones to make the move himself. Temperatures in the valley that night registered 29° F. Where Jones lay it was probably colder. Despite all, he weathered the night fairly well alone.

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

Analysis (GTNP): Jones’ snow and ice experience was limited. Because the snow was so hard and steep, the party should have turned around or utilized rock piton belays along the walls of the couloir. Jones’ inability to effect a self arrest was not entirely due to his inexperience. The opinion of the rescue team was that even an experienced climber might have had trouble stopping himself on such snow and ice. Proper judgement of the terrain in conjunction with the strength of the party was not exercised by the leader.

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