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Fall on Snow—Crampon Point Caught in Pants, No Hard Hat, Climbing Alone, Wyoming, Mount Owen, Koven Couloir

FALL ON SNOW—CRAMPON POINT CAUGHT IN PANTS, NO HARD HAT,

CLIMBING ALONE

Wyoming, Mount Owen, Koven Couloir

At 1300 on August 2, Randy Huskinson (46) was descending the Koven Couloir following a successful ascent of the East Ridge of Mount Owen. He had soloed the route and was alone when he fell approximately 500 feet on snow to the base of the couloir.

Huskinson sustained multiple injuries in the fall and was unable to move unaided. Mark Savage and Clay Roscoe were climbing in the area and discovered the injured climber around 1400. They treated his injuries and sent other climbers in the area for assistance from Grand Teton National Park rangers. Six rangers from the Jenny Lake Rescue Team were flown to the accident site in the evening and climbed to the patient with medical and rescue gear at 2012. The rescue team along with Savage and Roscoe stabilized him and lowered him a short distance to a ledge where they could spend the night. On August 3, at 0845, the contract helicopter from Bridger-Teton National Forest conducted a “short-haul” of Huskinson to the landing zone on Teton Glacier. He was then transported in the helicopter to the rescue cache at Lupine Meadows and then by NPS ambulance to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson.

Huskinson had sustained a C-7 vertebrae fracture, bilateral second rib fractures, multiple lacerations, penetrating knee injury, and various soft tissue injuries.

Analysis

Huskinson had left Lupine Meadows Trailhead around 0500 on August 2 for a solo day climb of Mount Owen. His partner for the climb had not shown up as planned, so he opted to do the climb alone. He ascended the East Ridge route and reached the summit about 1100. The descent was uneventful until 1300, approximately halfway down the Koven Couloir where the angle began to lessen. He had been front pointing down the shaded portion of the couloir. The route now was exposed to the direct sunlight and the snow conditions were changed. Huskinson stamped out a small platform in the snow to evaluate whether to remove crampons and/or face out for the remainder of the descent. The step he had created in the snow collapsed and he took several plunge steps down the slope in order to regain control. One of his crampons caught on his pant leg which caused him to fall head first down the snow slope. He managed to work his body into a self-arrest position and was nearly stopped when he hit a rock and lost his ice ax. Huskinson slid head first again down the slope, hitting rocks along the way and eventually stopped on a small ledge. He believes that he did not lose consciousness, but he was unable to move himself from his location. He attempted to stop the bleeding from his scalp wound through direct pressure. Huskinson owns a helmet but had neglected to bring it with him on the climb. He stated that he had been climbing for 15 years, mostly in the Teton range. He had climbed the Koven Route previously. (Source: Rich Perch, SAR Ranger)