American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Hand-Holds Broke Off—Fall on Rock, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Direct Jensen Ridge

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

HAND-HOLDS BROKE OFF-FALL ON ROCK

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Direct Jensen Ridge

On August 5 about 1430, Exum Guide Mark Newcomb (39) fell about 80 feet when his hand-holds broke off while ascending the Direct Jensen Ridge route of Symmetry Spire. He was about two pitches from the top of the technical portion of the route. He was guiding two clients, and one of them was belaying him, arresting his fall despite suffering a significant wound to his right forearm from a falling rock. Newcomb suffered multiple trauma, including lacerations, bruises, and abrasions. The Exum Mountaineering Guides office was immediately notified of the accident via cellphone.

Rescue Coordinator G. Montopoli was contacted by the Exum Mountaineering Guides office, and after speaking with a client and Newcomb, immediately initiated a rescue operation. The contract helicopter was summoned to Lupine Meadows and St. John’s Hospital Emergency Room was advised of the situation.

Rangers D. Bywater and E. Visnovske were climbing in the area (Baxter’s Pinnacle) and were dispatched to the scene on foot in the event that an approaching thunderstorm precluded use of the helicopter.

At 1530, an initial reconnaissance flight was conducted to determine the technical requirements for the rescue operation. Two rangers, A. Byerly and H. Motter, were then inserted on the first flight. On the second flight, two more rangers, R. Jackson and J. McConnell, were inserted. The helicopter flew around the scene while the two clients were loaded into evacuation suits and were then extracted from the scene to Lupine Meadows.

A rescue litter was then delivered at about 1630 hours to the accident scene. After medically assessing and treating Newcomb, he was immobilized on a backboard and placed in the litter. The litter was extracted from the scene and delivered to Lupine Meadows via short-haul techniques at 1715. Newcomb was then transported to St. John’s Hospital, Jackson, WY, via GTNP ambulance.

After a thorough medical evaluation at the hospital, M. Newcomb was released that evening after treatment for his injuries. (Source: George Montopoli, Ranger and Incident Commander)

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