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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Equipment—Boots, Wyoming, Tetons


Wyoming, Tetons

On July 27, 1985, at 2020, Quint Barney came to the Jenney Lake Ranger Station and reported an accident on the Skillet Glacier on Mt. Moran. Barney stated that he had climbed the CMC route on Moran that day with David Card (21), Doug Plowman and Brad Nye. Barney stated that the group had rappelled down two rope lengths from the top of the handle on the Skillet Glacier, intending to use the glacier as a descent route off the mountain.

At 1800, according to Barney, Card had just completed the second rappel and started to plunge step down with an ice ax. Barney stated that Card took five or six plunge steps and then fell down. Card immediately started to slide down the steep snow of the glacier. Barney said that Card made repeated efforts to self-arrest, but was unsuccessful.

Card slid about 300 vertical meters down the handle of the Skillet. He eventually struck, bounced up on, and then stopped on a rock outcropping halfway down the glacier. It took the rest of the party some time to reach Card. They found him apparently seriously injured. Nye and Plowman stayed with Card and Barney descended the Glacier to get help.

Due to the short amount of daylight left, a Kjerstad helicopter was requested immediately. The ship arrived at Lupine Meadows at 2050. Rangers Dorward and Johnson were flown to the area. Johnson was left off at the base of the Glacier. Kjerstad was then able to make a one skid landing very close to the victim. Dorward was let out at 2112.

The helicopter returned to Lupine Meadows and used what little daylight remained to fly in a sling load of additional equipment to Dorward at the scene. The load was dropped off and Kjerstad returned to Lupine Meadows and was released at 2135.

Dorward made an initial medical assessment while Johnson climbed to the scene in the dark. Card appeared to have sustained possible fractures of the right arm and shoulder, plus numerous soft tissue injuries. Dorward started an IV of Lactated Ringers. At 2325, Johnson administered one gram of Ancef, IV push. Park Medical Adviser Paul King was advised of the situation. Card’s vital signs fluctuated during the night, requiring constant attention by rangers on the scene.

Hill AFB was requested to respond at first light with their helicopter and winch. At 0130, Hill declined to accept the mission due to the altitude of the victim—about 3500 meters.

Dorward indicated that the area where Card was might be suitable for a toe-in landing by the Hughes 500D. Ft. Washakie was contacted and agreed to come to Lupine Meadows on July 20 as close to 0600 as possible.

The Ft. Washakie helicopter arrived at Lupine Meadows at 0645. An additional team of six rangers was also assembled in case an evacuation down the glacier became necessary. The ship left Lupine at 0708 and successfully picked up the victim. Due to the fact that neither Nye nor Plowman had mountain boots (both were wearing tennis shoes), they were flown off the mountain after Card. The operation was completed at 0800, with all personnel back at Lupine. Card was transported to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson via the South District aid van. (Source: Peter Armington, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)