American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Unroped, Inadequate Protection, No Hard Hat, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton

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


Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Middle Teton

On August 13, 1994, Arnold Schmidt and Patrick Dennis (39) were climbing on the Glacier Route of the Middle Teton when Dennis fell approximately 150 feet. Injuries sustained in the fall included displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula, and possible back injuries. Ranger Leo Larson, who was on a mountain patrol near the summit of Disappointment Peak, descended the southwest couloir and ran to the scene. Additional rescue personnel were flown to the base of Middle Teton Glacier. Following stabilization of Dennis’ injuries, he was carried by litter to a nearby helicopter and flown to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson.


Dennis was leading a roped pitch up moderate ice with no intermediate protection placed between him and his belay. After catching a crampon point, he fell and accelerated down the ice. Attempts to self-arrest with an ice tool were unsuccessful. During the fall, Dennis again snagged a crampon point resulting in the lower leg fractures. His fall was caught by the belay and he was lowered an additional 600 feet down the glacier by his climbing partner. Dennis’ injuries were appropriately treated by his partner and help was requested. A climbing helmet and good clothing likely prevented additional, more serious injury.

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