American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park. On 7 July Edwin W. Speth (26) and Tomm Peterson were climbing the second pitch on the Jensen Ridge on Symmetry Spire. Speth was leading. He had gone slightly off route and was about 75 feet above the belay position when he fell. He had placed two pitons, the first about 50 feet up, and the second at his waist. Both pulled easily in the fall. Speth fell past Peterson, the rope broke and Speth landed in the snow at the base of the ridge, then slid down the snow and dropped into the moat at the side of the gulley. The total fall was a little over 200 feet to the snow and another 75 feet down the snow. Peterson felt no tug on the rope nor does he know how the rope broke. Speth was killed.

Source: Pete Sinclair, Park Ranger.

Analysis: Possibly better knowledge of the placement of pitons, and better rope would have prevented this accident. It was learned afterward that the perlon rope that was being used had been used before when it had received a certain amount of strain from another leader fall, but had not been thoroughly examined for damage.

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