Monday, August 24, 2015

Two Climbers Die in Fall Inside Grand Teton National Park

Two female climbers fell to their death while climbing inside Grand Teton National Park over the weekend as a strange, and tragic, summer season continues throughout the U.S. national park system.

Tyler Strandberg and Catherine Nix, both of Jackson, Wyoming, fell 200 feet while attempting to climb to the summit of Teewinot Mountain on Saturday. They were taking what is described as the standard route to the top along the East Face of that mountain when the accident occurred. The two women, along with a third climbing partner named Rebecca Anderson, were ascending a steep section without ropes when Strandberg and Nix fell. Anderson was the person who placed a 911 call to authorities to report the incident.

Teewinot is a 12,326-foot (3756 meter) peak that is generally climbed without the use of ropes. It is a mostly non-techcnal ascent, although there is a challenging Class 4.0 scramble to the summit near the end. The route up the East Face is also unmarked and requires good pathfinding skills to stay on course. The three women wandered off course on their way up the mountain, which led them into a much more challenging section that was very steep and rocky. Those conditions eventually contributed to the death of Strandberg and Nix, and also stranded Anderson who had to be airlifted off the mountain by helicopter.

My condolences to the friends and family of the two women who lost their lives. It is a sad story that reminds us of the dangers of climbing and the need to be extra cautious, particularly on a route that isn't well known.

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