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Stranded, Climbing Alone, Weather, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton

STRANDED, CLIMBING ALONE, WEATHER

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton

A climber (35) signed out on August 29, 1992, to do a solo climb of the north ridge of the Grand Teton. He discussed the route and his plans extensively with the rangers on duty at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station.

He failed to return as scheduled on the night of the 31st and Ranger Dorward (on routine patrol at the lower saddle) determined that his camp on the Middle Teton Glacier moraine had not been occupied that night, so a search was started on the morning of September 1. Rangers Jackson and Springer went on a recon flight at 1110. They spotted Felber at 1130 on a ledge between the great west chimney and the north ridge, a rope length below the second ledge.

Rangers were flown in three flights to the Lower Saddle. At 1500 they left the Lower Saddle and climbed to the Upper Saddle and out the second ledge to a point 200 feet past the great west chimney. Alexander was then lowered to the victim at 1700. Felber, who was uninjured, was raised with a z-rig to the second ledge while Alexander jumared. They arrived at the second ledge at 1745 and everyone headed back to the Lower Saddle— they arrived there at 2000. Bad weather precluded retrieving the rescue team that evening.

The following morning all seven rangers were flown to Lupine Meadows in two flights in the Yellowstone Lama piloted by Chuck Rogers. A sling load of equipment was also returned from the saddle. All were back by 1225.

Analysis

After returning to the valley, Felber stated that he had started his climb on the 30th as scheduled at 0530 from his camp on the Middle Teton Glacier moraine. He made reasonable progress around the Valhalla Traverse and reached the top of the Grandstand around 1130. From there on up he seemed very confused about the route. He did reach the base of the chockstone pitch, but was unable to climb it. He then climbed the wall to the right and continued straight up to the ledge from which he was eventually rescued. Another rope length of climbing put him on the second ledge just before dark. A short, easy traverse to the south from this point leads to the Upper Saddle.

He spent the night on the second ledge and inexplicably rappelled back down to the ledge below on the morning of the 31st. He remained there until the rescue team fetched him on the afternoon of the 1st. He was unable to climb from the ledge because of the snow that covered the mountain on the nights of the 30th and 31st. (Source: Bob Irvine, SAR Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)