American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Wyoming, Tetons, Middle Teton

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

Wyoming, Tetons, Middle Teton. On July 10 Allan Summers (47) and Buford Brauninger were making an ascent of the Middle Teton via the Middle Teton Glacier. They had completed the climb up the Glacier and were just going from the snow to the rock, when Brauninger slipped or lost his footing and fell down the snow covered glacier. He attempted to effect an ice ax self-arrest but was unable to control his slide. When he came to the end of his rope, he pulled Summers out of an insecure ice ax belay. Both men continued to slide down the glacier and through a rock outcropping, and ended up just below a crevasse where their rope hung up on a snow nubbin on the lower rim of the crevasse. They had slid and tumbled over 1,000 feet down the glacier.

Mr. Brauninger, in a dazed condition, cut himself from the rope and went to see if he could be of assistance to Summers. Summers died shortly after Brauninger reached him. Brauninger called for help and remained near Summers. Another party nearby heard the calls and went to their aid. When the condition of the party was known, one member of the second party returned to the valley and reported the accident to the Ranger Station at Jenny Lake. A park rescue team was dispatched, and Brauninger was hand carried out during the night. A helicopter was called in, and Summers’ body was removed the following morning.

Source: F. Douglas McLaren, District Ranger.

Analysis: Neither man had had snow- and ice-climbing experience for the conditions they faced on this climb. The snow had become soft on the surface, and when they set up their ice ax belay, they did not realize the danger of utilizing only the surface snow for the belay.

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