American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Loss of Control—Voluntary Glissade, Inadequate Equipment, Wyoming, Tetons, Lower Saddle

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991

LOSS ON CONTROL—VOLUNTARY GLISSADE, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Wyoming, Tetons, Lower Saddle

On July 27, Shawn Callahan (31) lost control during a voluntary glissade on the snow below the Lower Saddle, near the base of Middle Teton. An Exum Mountain Guide, Peter Krantz, reported the accident, indicating a possible broken leg.

At 1400 Rangers Carr and Dorward were flown to just above the accident site (southwest of Garnet Canyon Caves) at an elevation of 3200 meters by Kjerstad Helicopters. Ranger Irvine was also flown to the scene from Amphitheater Lake.

The Rangers arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and determined that Mr. Callahan had a 6-8 cm long head laceration and a possible open fracture with obvious deformity of the lower right leg.

At 1620, as the Yellowstone Helicopter was arriving at Lupine Meadows, a second accident occurred at the same location. John Schall, a hiker, had slid 60 meters on snow and slammed into some rocks.

At 1658 additional medical supplies were flown to the scene on the short haul line, during the hover check phase, by the Mountain Rotors helicopter for use in the evacuation of Mr. Schall.

Mr Callahan was short hauled, with Ranger Berkenfield as spotter, from the scene to the Garnet Canyon Meadows at 1710. Mr. Callahan was then transferred to the Kjerstad helicopter and flown directly to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson, Wyoming, with Ranger Martin attending, arriving at 1724.

Mr. Callahan was diagnosed at St. John’s Hospital as having a compound tibia/fibula fracture, which required surgery, and a scalp laceration. (Source: Jim Woodmencey, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis

In a phone conversation with Mr. Callahan on July 28,1 was told that he was descending from the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton, after a failed solo attempt on the Exum Ridge, at 1030.

Mr. Callahan stated that he was glissading down the snow near the base of the Middle Teton, south and west of the trail near the caves in Garnet Canyon, when his right heel caught on hard snow or a submerged rock. His leg snapped, he lurched backward and hit his head on a rock.

Mr. Callahan also stated that he stopped in place and was able to drag himself to some nearby rocks. He then yelled for help and was soon met by other climbers in the area. Peter Krantz and Peter Lenz, M.D., administered first aid. Krantz descended to report the accident and Lenz remained with the victim until rangers arrived.

Mr. Callahan stated that he did not have an ice ax with him. (Source: Jim Woodmencey, Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

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