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Fall on Rock—Probably Loose Rocks, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Baxter's Pinnacle

FALL ON ROCK—PROBABLY LOOSE ROCKS

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Baxter’s Pinnacle

On August 14 around 1745, Jason Coles reported an injured climber near the base of the rappel at Baxter’s Pinnacle. He stated the victim fell 120 feet and sustained a head injury and numerous other injuries. Rangers conducted a 2,000 foot technical lowering to the Cascade Canyon horse trail. He was placed on the wheel litter and taken to the Jenny Lake west shore boat dock, placed on the concessions boat and taken across to the east shore boat dock. Medic I picked him up and took him to Lupine Meadows where he was airlifted by helicopter to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

The victim, Larry Kruse (40), sustained numerous fractures and abrasions.

He sustained a concussion, but no serious head injury. He is unable to recall any of the events before or after the accident.

Analysis

Jeff Steinmetz, Kruse’s partner, stated the following. We reached the top of Baxter’s Pinnacle, and Larry rappelled off first. Kruse called up that he was off rappel and as I started clipping in, I heard him yell, “Rock.” About four seconds later I heard what sounded like rockfall. I called to Larry but he didn’t answer. I rappelled down to the notch and didn’t see Larry. I called but received no reply. I pulled the rappel rope and started to down climb the descent gully. After climbing down about 80 feet I heard him moaning. I climbed to a tree about 30 feet above him and set up an anchor. I rappelled down to him and clipped him into the rope due to his precarious position. I started yelling for help, and two climbers rappelled down from Baxter’s to help. I didn’t see Larry fall and think he may have rappelled into the gully to the west of the notch instead of stopping at the notch.

Steinmetz stated that Larry had been climbing for 12–15 years. He is a solid 5.10 leader. He has climbed in Yosemite, Red Rocks, and many other places but never in Grand Teton National Park. (Source: Mark Magnuson, SAR Coordinator)

(Editor’s Note: Though we don’t know the exact cause of Kruse’s fall, this accident is worth noting to provide a warning for even the most experienced who climb and descend Baxter’s Pinnacle. Loose rock, especially on the descent, is a known hazard here, and has caused many injuries or near misses.)