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Fall on Snow, Unable to Self-Arrest — Wyoming, Tetons

FALL ON SNOW, UNABLE TO SELF-ARREST

Wyoming, Tetons

The Koven route on Mount Owen is one of the most popular due to its easy access from the Teton Glacier. From the glacier, the route climbs over moderate terrain to the Koven Couloir, a narrow 45- to 50-degree snow chute between the East Prong and the main body of Mount Owen; it then continues on to the summit block.

On August 25, 1982, Peter Krack and Mark Pearson set out to climb the Koven. They headed to the Teton Glacier where they set up their high camp. From there, they left early on August 26, reaching the base of the couloir about 0800. The pair were over halfway up the couloir, climbing unroped on the “soft, rotten snow,” when Pearson said he heard a sliding sound and saw Krack slide down the chute in self-arrest, hit a rock band, and disappear.

Pearson began to descend and found Krack in some rocks with facial and head injuries, a possible back injury and a possible fractured knee. Pearson then went for help and encountered off-duty ranger Jim Woodmency ascending the route.

Harris was flown to Amphitheater Lake by helicopter; by 1645, he reached the scene but found that Gordon had succumbed to his injuries. The rescue team lowered his body to Amphitheater Lake and, from there, it was evacuated by helicopter. (Source: Craig Patterson, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis

Gordon had the necessary skill and equipment for the climb. He knew how to selfarrest and had been practicing that technique prior to his accident. Although the surface of the snow slope was firm corn, it was not difficult to get purchase by digging in an ice-ax pick. But for some reason, Gordon was unable to self-arrest. (Source: Craig Patterson, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)