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Handhold Came Off—Struck by Rock, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Disappointment Peak


Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Disappointment Peak

On August 17, John Taylor (29) was climbing the Lake Ledges route on Disappointment Peak when he dislodged a rock. The rock struck him on the left chest, and then hit his feet and ankles. He tumbled about ten feet after the rock passed. His sister ran down for help. Ranger Andy Byerly saw her run past him, but thought she was just a jogger. Another visitor informed Byerly of the incident. He radioed the information he had at 1630 to SAR coordinator Burgette. Rangers Jackson and Motter had just finished the Open Book climb on the south side of Disappointment, and they were only about 200 yards from Taylor when they heard Byerly’s report. Climbing with them was Dr. Oram, an emergency physician. They reached Taylor, did an assessment, and requested that a helicopter be dispatched. After discussion, it was decided to fly to the scene, do a power check, and if everything looked good, land on the plateau above the incident site, let out ranger Johnson with med gear, and return for the short-haul litter.

The park’s contract helicopter, piloted by Jim Hood, arrived at the SAR cache at 1712. After a briefing, they flew to the site and found good conditions. The patient was packaged and short-hauled to the heli-spot, and then flown inside the ship to Lupine Meadows where Medic I was waiting to transport Taylor to St. John’s Hospital. The rescue team was flown from the heli-spot and reached Lupine Meadows at 1910.

Taylor was found to have lacerations, contusions, and fractures in his left foot.


This was one example of a climber being caught unaware as a loose rock pulled free of the mountain. Testing holds when scrambling unroped is just as important as when on lead. (Source: Dan Burgette, SAR Ranger, Grand Teton National Park)