STRANDED, CLIMBING ALONE AND UNROPED (PARTY SEPARATED), EXCEEDING ABILITIES
Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Glencoe Spire
On July 20, 1994, a member of the Paul Petzoldt 70th anniversary climbing party heard cries for help coming from the south face of Glencoe Spire. The stranded climber, later identified as Ron Dankert (23), was reportedly bleeding and ready to fall. This information was relayed to Rangers Renny Jackson and Jim Dorward who were near the Lower Saddle. Jackson and Dorward responded to the scene and found Dankert stuck several hundred feet up the south face. While not injured Dankert was unsure of his climbing partner’s location, fearing that he may have fallen. Dankert was assisted off Glencoe Spire by Jackson and Dorward. Other Jenny Lake Rangers who had responded to the area to assist later determined that the second climber, a Mr. Rikert, had shown up at the Lower Saddle.
Dankert and Rikert had signed out for a day climb on the East Ridge of the Grand Teton. Unsure where the route started, they hiked up Garnet Canyon—the wrong canyon if one intends to climb the East Ridge. While hiking up the north fork of Garnet toward the Lower Saddle, Dankert was lured by the south face of Glencoe Spire. He left Rikert and headed for the base of the face. Disinterested in joining his partner on Glencoe Spire, Rikert proceeded to the Lower Saddle where he borrowed a climbing harness and teamed up with another group to climb the Owen Spalding route on the Grand Teton. Meanwhile, Dankert proceeded to solo Glencoe Spire, becoming stuck several hundred feet up.
In a follow-up interview with Dankert, he told rangers that he had been climbing for about a year and a half in a gym, but had limited experience on rock. He said that Glencoe Spire looked close enough to a climbing wall that he thought he could climb it solo with no problem.
(Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of incidents in recent years in which gym and/or sport climbers have taken their craft into the mountains, unprepared for the added challenges of an alpine environment—weather, route finding, altitude, loose rock, placing protection, approach and descent, etc.)