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Slip on Snow—Twice, No Belay, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Mount Moran

SLIP ON SNOW-TWICE, NO BELAY

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Mount Moran

On July 3, the Jones party signed out at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station as two separate groups of four to climb the Skillet Glacier route on Mount Moran. On July 4, they started across Jackson Lake in two small boats headed for the base on Mount Moran. Waves swamped their boats and they were rescued by NPS Rangers. On July 5, they were delivered to the base of Moran by a Signal Mountain shuttle boat. They climbed to the Skillet moraine and camped for the night. They left camp on July 6 at 0400 in three roped teams. Four of them retreated to camp at 0700, while Ben Boykin (40), Tom Jones (43), Steve Harris and Jeb Stewart continued to the summit, arriving around 1500. (They required 11 hours for the ascent. The average time for ascent is less than seven hours.)

During the descent, Tom Jones, who was not belayed at the time and had removed his helmet, slipped and slid about 1,000 feet down the “Handle” of the Skillet. Apparently he was not injured, and after he stopped sliding, continued his descent at a more sedate pace. As he attempted to turn the “Rock Island” on the south side, he slipped again, glanced off the Rock Island, cleared the bergschrund and came to rest on the low angled section of the “Pan.” The members of the party who had turned back at 0700 saw him fall and went to his assistance. They were able to get Jones back to their camp and Jim called for help on his cell phone. The call was received by the SAR coordinator at 1930.

The contract helicopter arrived at Lupine Meadows at 2015, the pilot was briefed and then transported Rangers Weathermon and Jernigan with medical equipment to a landing zone near the patient’s camp. Jones was placed on a backboard and in a litter while the helicopter returned to Lupine Meadows. As the patient was moved to the landing zone, the helicopter flew back to the glacier for a pickup about 2115, arriving at Lupine Meadows at 2120. Jones was transported to St. John’s Hospital by Medic 1. (Source: Tom Kimbrough, NPS Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis

It seems inevitable to have a Skillet Glacier incident. This one was classic for

the route. Most of the slides happen on the descent. We do not know whether Jones tried—or knew how—to self-arrest. Or if he had an ice ax. No matter. Skillet Glacier on Mount Moran = pay attention. (Source: Jed Williamson)