American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Loss of Control, Voluntary Glissade, Wyoming, Tetons

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

LOSS OF CONTROL, VOLUNTARY GLISSADE

Wyoming, Tetons

On July 13, Gary Price (22), Mark Hasson, Barry Thomas, and Ethan Rathburn were climbing the East Couloir route on Disappointment Peak. After reaching the summit, the party began its descent by the same route. At 12:30 p.m., while descending the moderately steep upper section of the couloir in a sitting glissade, Price lost control and attempted to self-arrest. The strap of his backpack broke and became tangled with his axe. He then slid out of control about 90 feet down the couloir and landed in a moat, injuring his right knee and ankle.

Mark Elder, a park visitor hiking in the Amphitheater Lake area, observed the accident and reported to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station that Price was being assisted down the trail to the valley by his friends. At 7 p.m., Hasson and Rathburn arrived at Lupine Meadows to report that Price was in the vicinity of the eighth switchback and did not feel that he could descend to the valley without assistance. Park personnel reached him by 10:30 p.m. with a pack horse and evacuated him to Lupine Meadows shortly after midnight. (Source: Jim Olson, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis

This is a common occurrence in the Tetons. Many climbs end with a final descent down a snowfield or couloir. It is the classic time for things to go wrong because of fatigue and the change of pace from climbing. The reason more of these “incidents” do not become “accidents” is due to somewhat merciful out runs on some of these snow chutes. (Source: J. Williamson)

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