A climbing guide leading a party down from the summit of the Grand Teton fell about 2,400 feet to his death Saturday.
Grand Teton National Park officials identified the man as Gary Falk, 42, of Ouray, Colorado. A guide for Exum Mountain Guides, a long-time park concessionaire, Mr. Falk had led his clients to the summit of the 13,770-foot peak and was heading down when he fell from the top of the Owen Spalding Rappel into Valhalla Canyon near the Black Ice Couloir.
According to a park release, the guide fell shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday. “Park rangers responded with a reconnaissance flight to survey the situation and two rangers from that flight were inserted in the area via helicopter and hiked to the scene. It was determined that the individual was deceased and a recovery effort was initiated,” park spokeswoman Denise Germann wrote in the release.
The guide’s body was recovered via helicopter long line and the Teton County coroner declared Falk deceased Saturday afternoon.
Another Exum guide assisted the clients with their descent.
According to the park, Mr. Falk had worked for Exum Mountain Guides for a dozen years. He leaves a wife and two young sons.
“The Teton guiding community is devastated with this loss. Gary was a diligent guide, always the consummate professional. Exum is grieving from this news and struggling to comprehend the situation,” said Exum President and co-owner Nat Patridge. “All Exum operations will be closed Sunday, out of honor and respect for Gary. Our love goes out to Kate and their sons.”
Park rangers on Saturday also responded to a rescue of a 25-year-old woman from Walker, Michigan. A call was received by Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at approximately 1:15 p.m. informing of an individual hiking in the south fork of Garnet Canyon that fell on snow and was severely injured. A short-haul rescue was used to extract her from the scene of the fall to a park ambulance that transported her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.