American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Falling Rock, Poor Position — Wyoming, Tetons

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985

FALLING ROCK, POOR POSITION

Wyoming, Tetons

Dick Arneson (age unknown) and Nelson Lichtenstein (39) were approaching the Southwest Ridge of Symmetry Spire at 1100 on August 14, 1984. Arneson had just reached the base of the ridge when he dislodged a loose rock. The rock, which was about the size of a honeydew melon, tumbled 70 meters down the slope and struck Lichtenstein on the knee. The climb was aborted and Lichtenstein began to hobble down the couloir with Arneson’s assistance.

Another climber in the area descended and reported the accident to Ranger Funke at 1225 while she was riding up the horse trail to Cascade Canyon. Shortly after, Ranger Gagner headed up the trail to help. He reached the injured climber at 1255 a few hundred yards above the first headwall in the couloir. Lichtenstein was helped to the trail and given a horseback ride to the boat dock. He came across the lake on the boat and was driven to St.John’s Hospital by his climbing partner. His injuries were diagnosed as a fractured fibula with associated ligament damage. (Source: Bob Irvine, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis

Parties ascending or descending couloirs or steep trails where there is the potential for dislodging rocks should travel either very close together or one at a time, each person moving to a secure location before the next moves. There were two other similar accidents in the Tetons resulting in fractures. (Source: J. Williamson)

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