Slip on Snow, Climbing Unroped, Wyoming, Tetons

Publication Year: 1980.


Wyoming, Tetons

James (24) and Claude (29) Kelly were climbing the Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton on July 2. After climbing the “Open Book” pitch on the ridge, approximately 200 to 300 feet below the summit, the Kellys were crossing a small, steep snowfield approximately 30 feet wide. About 3 p.m. James was leading across the snowfield when he heard a noise. James turned and saw Claude slide down the snow, lose his ice axe and disappear from sight. James did not see what caused Claude to slide. Claude fell approximately 2,000 feet down the Stettner Couloir to his death. He stopped 200 feet below the Black Dike. (Source: R. Howard, Grand Teton National Park)


James Kelly stated that he considered the route easier than expected and that he and Claude had done harder routes in the Sierras. James felt they were experienced with ice axes. Also, he was only slightly tired and felt that Claude was a stronger climber. James said they were not bothered by altitude problems. He considered the late afternoon snow soft and the steps he kicked good. James Kelly had no idea why the accident occurred or why Claude did not self-arrest. They were climbing unroped. (Source: R. Howard, Grand Teton National Park)