Off Route, Fall on Snow/Ice — Unable to Self-Arrest Faulty Use of Crampons, No Hard Hat, Inexperience, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Middle Teton

Publication Year: 2012.


Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Middle Teton

About 1000 on July 29, Ryan Haymaker (21) and Andy Friedlund were attempting to climb the Middle Teton, but they mistakenly ascended the Ellingwood Couloir instead of the traditional Southwest Couloir farther to the west. Near the top of the Ellingwood Couloir they were unable to continue because the climbing became much steeper and significantly more difficult. They then began descending. Initially they down-climbed, but after a while they began to glissade with Friedlund going first. After descending about one-third of the couloir, Haymaker lost control and slid past Friedlund. He hit rock and began to tumble. He came to rest about 1,200 feet later on the apron just short of the talus. He sustained critical injuries.

Exum guide Chris Figenshau and Teton County SAR volunteer notified GTNP dispatch of the accident at 1043 and nearby climbers stabilized Haymaker. Four rangers were then shuttled by a GTNP contract helicopter to the incident scene. Once on scene, rangers further stabilized Haymaker, securing him onto a backboard. He was carried about 75 yards on the backboard to the helicopter, where he was loaded internally andflown to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache. Park Medical Advisor Dr. Will Smith provided advanced medical interventions. Haymaker was then transported to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center via their emergency helicopter. Haymaker’s climbing partner, Andy Friedlund (21), was flown in helicopter to Lupine Meadows from the accident scene with the remaining three rangers.


Ryan Haymaker had very little, if any, mountaineering experience. He was originally part of a group of four people who obtained the overnight permit for Garnet Canyon. They split into two parties in the canyon on their approach day. The following day, one party headed for the South Teton, and the other party (R. Haymaker and A. Friedlund) headed for Middle Teton. Because Haymaker and Friedlund headed up the wrong couloir, there is a good chance that they did not receive any information about the route at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station prior to the ascent. Those without prior knowledge often mistake the Ellingwood Couloir for the Southwest Couloir. It a very steep couloir approaching 50 degrees near its top and has a slant to it so that people who fall often crash into exposed rocks on its west side and middle. A sliding fall in the couloir without wearing helmet can be disastrous, as was the case with Haymaker. Furthermore, few experienced climbers would consider glissading this couloir wearing crampons. Most down-climb the couloir, and some even rappel it, creating anchors in the snow or on the rock walls on its sides. (Source: Ranger George Montopoli – Incident Commander)