American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Handhold Came Off—Fall on Rock, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Symmetry Spire

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

HANDHOLD CAME OFF–FALL ON ROCK

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Symmetry Spire

On July 28, Laura Plaut (35) was treated and evacuated from near the summit of 10,546-foot Symmetry Spire after she fell about 100 feet, shattering her left elbow and breaking a bone in her left foot. Plaut and her climbing partner sought out a hiker with a cell phone and called rangers for help about 4:30 p.m. Using the Park’s contract helicopter, the first of the rescue team was able to make his way to Plaut’s side by shortly after 6:15 p.m. and provided initial treatment. At that time, a determination was made to evacuate Plaut from the mountainside with the use of a litter suspended below the helicopter. She was subsequently transported to St.John’s Hospital in Jackson by park ambulance.

Analysis

Plaut’s climbing partner told Park Rangers that they had just completed ascending the Southwest Ridge route of Symmetry Spire and were headed for the summit when the accident occurred. Plaut was scrambling unroped (not an uncommon occurrence on this scramble) near the summit of the spire when she apparently grabbed a loose rock and fell. Her partner said he could see that Plaut had an open fracture of her elbow, a hurt ankle, and a head laceration and was concerned about the possibility of other injuries, and so he immediately sought help. She was wearing a helmet. (Source: Dan Burgette, SAR Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

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