Falling Rock—Foothold Broke Off

Wyoming, Tetons
Climb Year: 1987. Publication Year: 1988.

John Hubalek (23) was climbing Baxter’s Pinnacle on July 6, 1987, with Randy Harrington. At 1445, Harrington was leading the second pitch of the south ridge when a foothold that he was standing on broke off. A rock, 25 to 30 centimeters in diameter, fell approximately ten meters and struck Hubalek on the head and shoulder. Hubalek was wearing a helmet, but the impact still knocked him unconscious and he was left hanging upside down in his climbing harness.

Leo and Helen Larson were climbing an adjacent pitch and they were able to come to Hubalek’s aid and also radio the Jenny Lake Ranger Station to report the accident.

in Rotors helicopter was used to sling load equipment to the base of the pinnacle. Hubalek was lowered 100 meters down the cliff and then carried another 400 meters down steep talus and scree to the trail. He was wheeled to the boat dock, taken across the lake in the concessioner’s boat, and driven to St. John’s Hospital in the park ambulance. He arrived there at 2025. His injuries were diagnosed as a concussion, head laceration and brusied shoulder. Had Hubalek not been wearing a helmet, he very well could have been killed. (Source: Bob Irvine, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park.)