American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Failure to Test Holds—Handhold Came Off, Fall on Rock, Wyoming, Wind River Range, Jackson Peak

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

FAILURE TO TEST HOLDS–HANDHOLD CAME OFF, FALL ON ROCK

Wyoming, Wind River Range, Jackson Peak

On August 11 about 1100, Bev Boynton (51) and David Moore of Jackson, WY, were finishing the final pitch on the South Buttress of Jackson Peak in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. While Boynton was leading at about 12,800 feet, she pulled off a large flake of rock which caused her to fall about fifteen feet onto the ledge below. She sustained multiple injuries and believed that she had a pneumothorax. Moore gave her warm clothes and went for assistance. When he arrived at Indian Basin, he located campers with a cell phone and called the Jenny Lake Ranger Station in Grand Teton National Park. When the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office was notified, they requested the park rangers assist in the rescue.

Two park rangers and a Physician’s Assistant were flown to Moore’s location in Indian Basin. Helicopter short-haul technique was then used to insert rescuers to the accident site. Boynton’s injuries were assessed and treated, and she was short-hauled to the basin below. Boynton was then transferred to an air ambulance from the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and flown to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson. She had multiple injuries, including a pulmonary contusion and torn ankle ligaments.

Analysis

This is another case of a large block pulling loose. A very experienced climber was caught by this objective danger. Testing holds and not having the belayer standing directly below the climber are important. This was a good example of climbers with a different mind-set than we often see in the Tetons. This party was nineteen miles from the trailhead. Boynton assumed that she would be spending the night on her ledge, and the party was prepared for that, mentally and gear-wise. Amazingly, the cell phone Moore borrowed got out of the basin beneath the peak and Boynton was evacuated that evening. Cell phones can be a real help when they are genuinely needed and if they work, but they are not more important than self-help and being prepared. (Source: Dan Burgette, SAR Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)

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