American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Rock, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Garnet Canyon

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007


Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Garnet Canyon

On July 22 at 1445, Teton Dispatch forwarded a cellphone caller to me. John Coombs who told me that Eva Bell (22) a member of his party, had fallen and tumbled approximately 80 to 100 feet at the base of the Open Book route in Garnet Canyon. He told me that she fell on very steep ground for about 20 feet and then tumbled and cartwheeled another 60 to 80 feet on lower angle rocky terrain. He told me that she did not lose consciousness and that she was alert and oriented. He said that she had lower lumbar pain, left rib pain, an impact injury to her face and multiple abrasions and lacerations. He also said that there was a wilderness first responder on scene. Coombs had had to hike about 1.5 miles down canyon to make the cell call. I told him to return to the accident site where he could stay until help arrived, unless Bell’s condition had worsened. If that were the case, he was to call me again. I had Ranger Visnovske, (park medic) take an additional medical report from Coombs. Visnovske then contacted medical director Will Smith with the patient information.

Via Park Dispatch, the contract helicopter was requested. They gave an ETA of over one hour. Available rescue personnel were summoned to the rescue cache. Rangers Byerly and Hardesty were sent to the scene by foot given the long helicopter response time. They arrived about the same time that contract helicopter 20HX arrived at Lupine Meadows. Hardesty and Byerly assessed Bell’s injuries and determined that the best method for extraction would be to use the patient evacuation suit. After a mission briefing, Rangers Jackson, Visnovske, and Motter were flown to a staging site at the Garnet Meadows. Jackson spotted as the evacuation suit was delivered via short-haul to the accident site. Bell was then extracted unattended and flown to the Garnet Meadows landing zone where she was loaded internally in the helicopter and flown to Lupine Meadows. She was transported to St. John’s Hospital in Medic 1. All rescue personnel were flown back to Lupine Meadows from the Garnet Canyon Meadows.


In an interview at St.John’s Hospital, Bell and her companions told me that they were soloing the 4th class terrain just below the Open Book climb. Bell’s friends told me that she became uncomfortable with the climbing and was about to pass her backpack up to a companion when she slipped and fell. She was not yet wearing a climbing helmet or climbing shoes. Coombs told me that he felt the fact that Bell had her pack on when she fell saved her from farther trauma. (Source: Scott Guenther, Ranger and Incident Commander)

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