American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Snow, Unable to Self-Arrest, Inadequate Equipment—No Ice Axe, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Garnet Canyon

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

FALL ON SNOW, UNABLE TO SELF-ARREST, INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT—NO ICE AXE

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Garnet Canyon

On June 11, 1994, Artur Kruk (31) and Iri Krol (33) were descending steep snow near Spalding Falls when Krol slipped and fell approximately 100 feet, impacting rocks below. Krol sustained multiple injuries in the fall including a fractured ankle and calcaneus, and compression fractures to the lumbar vertebrae. Krol’s injuries were stabilized by Jenny Lake Rangers and he was evacuated from the scene by helicopter shorthaul.

Analysis

During his descent, Krol was using ski poles rather than his ice axe. With the use of the axe, it’s possible that a self-arrest may have prevented the accident. While ski poles can greatly aid early season travel, they are no substitute for an ice axe on steep, hard snow— unless they are equipped with a handle axe made for this reason.

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