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Fall on Snow, Off Route, Inexperienced, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Middle Teton

FALL ON SNOW, OFF ROUTE, INEXPERIENCED

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Middle Teton

On May 30, 1992, a climber (20) and his partner were on the way down what they thought was the Southwest Couloir of the Middle Teton, at 1630 and fell about 800 feet down a steep snow slope and over two 40 to 50 foot cliff bands. Both are unclear if the two to four foot avalanche debris they were caught in was started by the fall or caused the fall. Arms was unconscious for about five minutes after the fall and had a fractured heel. Walter went to Garnet Meadows to get their tent and sleeping bags which he used to stabilize Arms before Arms was flown out by NPS helicopter at 0800 on May 31, and was taken to St. John's Hospital where he was treated for a fractured talus.

Analysis

The pillow of snow around Arms and the fact that he was wearing a helmet probably saved his life. He told ranger Springer he remembers hitting his head several times during the fall. The climbers’ relative inexperience, lack of route finding skills, and soft snow conditions probably caused this accident. (Source: Scott Berkenfield, SAR Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)