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Fall on Rock, Inadequate Equipment, Inexperience, Wyoming, Tetons

FALL ON ROCK, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT, INEXPERIENCE

Wyoming, Tetons

On July 31, 1987, Peter Froelicher (24) and Alicia Sams (23) attempted a one-day ascent of Teewinot via the East Face route. At 1345, both were climbing unroped at an elevation of 3500 meters. Froelicher got into a position where he was standing on a small ledge and trying to find a handhold. Sams was very close to him. After a few minutes of hanging on and trying to make the next move upward, Froelicher attempted to move upward, but lost his hold and fell.

Froelicher fell about three meters vertically and then tumbled about ten meters down broken rock terrain. Sams fell off her perch moments later, duplicating Froelicher’s fall and coming to rest just above him.

Both sustained serious injuries, later diagnosed at St. John’s Hospital: Sams had two fractured wrists requiring surgery and multiple lacerations and abrasions. Froelicher suffered a fracture of the right pelvis (pubic ramus), a pneumomedia stinum, multiple lacerations, and abrasions.

Sams was unable to move with her injuries. She was forced to spend the night in the area in which she had fallen. She had no extra clothes with her, but fortunately the night was warm and dry. Froelicher descended and was found by rangers on their way to look for them. A helicopter rescue ensued. (Source: Peter Armington, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis

In an interview on August 2, Froelicher said that they had not taken any ropes on the climb. He said that general information around the valley was that the East Face of Teewinot was a walk-up route, not requiring technical equipment or experience. Froelicher said that neither he nor Sams had much climbing experience. (Source: Peter Armington, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)