American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Snow, Fall into Moat While Glissading, Wyoming, Tetons

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987


Wyoming, Tetons

On June 21,1986, Fredrick Sigekrans (22) and Jeffrey Balin (21) were descending from the saddle between Middle and South Tetons by glissading. They reached a point ahundred vertical meters above the Meadows where Sigekrans knew there was a crevasse. He cautioned Balin about this crevasse and both detoured to avoid it. Balin soon started another glissade, but went only about four meters before he fell into a moat that he didn’t see. Both climbers estimated that Balin fell about eight meters vertically down into the moat.

Sigekrans climbed to a position where he could look down and see Balin. Balin apparently lost consciousness for a while. However, after about five minutes, Balin was able to start traversing in the moat, being unable to climb out of it. He traversed the moat by bridging between the rock wall on one side and the snow wall on the other side, finally reaching a point where the moat was less deep. In the meantime, Sigekrans’ calls for help had brought several other unidentified climbers to the scene. One of these climbers kicked steps in the snow wall of the moat, reached Balin, tied a loop of rope under Balin’s arms, and assisted him out.

Balin was then assisted down to his campsite at the Meadows, where he then waited for evacuation. Sigekrans ran to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station and reported the accident. A helicopter flew Balin to St. John’s Hospital by 1630. He sustained head lacerations which required stitches. (Source: Peter Armington, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)


This area is commonly glissaded, unroped and unprotected. The runout is usually good. Climbers can see the hazards from Garnet Canyon and on the ascent. Moats are so common here that this accident is reported in hopes that climbers will be reminded of this again. (Source: J. Williamson)

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