American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Table Mountain

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1972

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Table Mountain. On 9 August Peter Wollen and Morgan Broman (18) set out from the upper south fork of Cascade Canyon to climb Table Mountain. Since the hike up to the bottom of the climb is nine miles (from Jenn Lake), they had left the night before and camped at campsite #18.

After a small breakfast of grape-nuts and dates, they began the climb at about 0830. They carried one rope, one ice axe, lunch and other food, rain gear, and an assortment of iron and slings.

The lower part of the climb was mostly easy scrambling with some snow patches. They were unroped and the first time they discussed whether they should rope-up was about 100 feet below the point where the actual face began. They came across a small snow patch that ended in a wet, messy and cold chimney. There was a large boulder jammed in it. Peter went up and Broman followed with much exertion and discomfort. Some more scrambling brought them to a point where they had no choice but to exit onto a steep snow slope. The snow was steep for approximately 15 feet and then it leveled to a flat area. They discussed putting on the rope and then decided not to because they would probably want to remove it at the flat area. It was about 1000 in the morning.

Broman took the ice axe and chopped as many steps as he could from where he stood on the rock. The snow was hard. Then he started up and as he was chopping more steps, the ones he was standing in broke and he started sliding. He tried to self-arrest but the force of falling jerked the ice axe out of his hands when he hit the snow. He continued falling back down the wet chimney until he hit the snow below it. He fell about 60-75 feet. Somewhere along the way he hit his hip and jaw. When he stopped he was not unconscious but he could not see straight, and he felt very cold presumably from shock.

Wollen rappelled down and quickly made preparations for getting Broman down. Broman was able to walk stiffly. For the next three hours Peter lowered him by rope with a brake-bar arrangement in case he slipped. When they reached the woods, Broman felt he was able to reach the trail and wait for help. He had a bad gash under his chin that would not stop bleeding, but it appeared he could be left alone. Peter began the long hike to the ranger station to call for a helicopter. That was the last time Broman saw Peter. Peter had acted quickly and calmly. There is no doubt that he was an important factor in Broman’s rescue.

Broman walked slowly to the trail and fell asleep. Around 1900 that night he met a hiker who made some orange drink for him and kept him company. When the helicopter came he ran around a clearing waving Broman’s parka. The helicopter had to land about half a mile up the trail and Broman slowly walked up there. He was admitted to Jackson Hospital at about 2015.

The next day he was transferred to the Holy Cross Hospital in Salt

Lake City. On Thursday, 12 August, he underwent surgery for a broken jaw and had several badly fractured teeth removed.

Source: M. Broman, P. Wollen.

Analysis: (Broman) Poor judgment, poor step-chopping, and haste. We should have roped up at the entrance to the hard snow or earlier. It is an easy thing to put off roping until the last possible moment, that moment, however, may be too late.

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