American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Party Becoming Separated—Wyoming, Tetons

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1976

PARTY BECOMING SEPARATED—Wyoming, Tetons. Christopher Church (20) and David Hamilton (23) were climbing the Owen-Spalding route when they experienced a hailstorm. They descended from a point just above the rappel to the Upper Saddle via the standard rappel. Hamilton was ahead and told Church to follow him down the standard route. Church, however, became disoriented and descended the Exum Couloir. Hamilton waited for Church several times, then descended. Church, meanwhile, made his way down the couloir to the cliff band immediately above the Dike. While down climbing the band, he slipped and fell about 15 feet, injuring his back and right ankle. His shouts were heard by Hamilton, who went to his aid, along with Downey and Klein. (Source: Jim Olson, NPS, Moose, Wyoming.)

Analysis: Church, who could not keep up with Hamilton, became disoriented and descended the wrong couloir (one which ends in short cliff bands). Hamilton should not have gone ahead without Church. Both were inexperienced climbers. (Source: Jim Olson, NPS, Moose, Wyoming.)

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