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Fall on Icy Rock, Weather, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton

FALL ON ICY ROCK, WEATHER

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton

On July 14, 1992, at 0430, three Exum guides left the lower saddle with seven clients to climb the Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton. The route was in bad condition because of recent new snow and freezing temperatures. The group made good progress, but they were slowed by snow and ice on the route and they were belaying more than usual.

At 0855 one guide (44) was nearing the top of the pitch below the friction pitch when he apparently stepped on some ice and fell. He slid about 50 feet to the bottom of the pitch where his fall was stopped as he collided back first with a large block, breaking eight ribs.

The other two guides administered first aid and then started down with the clients. The guides got the clients down past “the wind tunnel” and then one guide proceeded back to the saddle and called the accident in. He then went back to the accident site with one client.

A difficult short-haul rescue ensued under windy conditions at 1835. The victim was at St. John’s Hospital by 1858. The serious injury was further complicated by an infection developed while in the hospital. Recovery was complete, but not for a long time. (Source: From an investigation by Bob Irvine, SAR Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

(Editor's Note: The guide’s fall was due to difficult conditions on a route that is normally no more than a 5.6, and where it is not easy—or usual—to place protection, especially when guiding. This accident is presented because it demonstrates appropriate preparation (clothing) and response by the guides, and another fine rescue carried out by Rangers and the helicopter pilot.)