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Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Symmetry Spire

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Symmetry Spire. On July 16, John Adams (18) and Marshall Conway (19) had registered for a climb on the Durrance Ridge but after they started they decided to do their climbing in an area considerably to the east of the Durrance Ridge. The area in which they were doing their climbing is considered to be more hazardous than the Durrance Ridge, because of the overhanging rock formations and the lack of adequate piton cracks. Most of the entire climb was far beyond the experience of either climber. At one point they had worked their way into a spot where they could go neither up nor down and called for help. These calls were heard by some hikers on the Cascade Canyon trail and one member of this party went to investigate the calls. A short time later Park Ranger Ronald Trussell came by on patrol and was informed of the situation by the hikers and he also went to investigate the trouble but was unable to make contact with the climbing party so he returned to the trail and went to Jenny Lake Ranger Station to report the incident. Park Rangers Leon Sinclair and David Dornan returned with Trussell to the location on the trail where the shouts were heard. They finally located the two climbers and were able to observe their descent which at this time appeared to be progressing satisfactorily except they were unroped. The two climbers were starting down a steep section of rock going into a chimney when Adams slid down a steep section of rock intending to stop on a small ledge lower down, but when he reached the ledge he was unable to stop and fell down the chimney bouncing back and forth between the walls for about 80 to 100 ft., coming to rest on the ledge at the foot of the chimney and at the top of another. Ranger Sinclair and Dornan notified the Jenny Lake Ranger Station of the accident by radio and immediately started up to the injured climber. A rescue team was organized and the evacuation was completed to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson by 11:30 p.m.

Source: F. Douglas McLaren, District Ranger.

Analysis: Slip on rock unroped and failure to follow route.