Backcountry Hiker Falls 300 Feet To His Death in Grand Teton National Park
A 24-year-old Pennsylvania man hiking in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park tumbled 300 feet to his death on Teewinot Mountain.
Eliot Kalmbach and his partner, Jon Winiasz, 23, of Vermilion, Ohio, were traversing a steep slope on Teewinot when Mr. Kalmbach fell and tumbled approximately 300 feet and sustained fatal injuries. Because the two men only intended to hike and scramble, neither was wearing a helmet or carrying climbing gear, according to a park release. The two men had only been in the park a few days before the accident Tuesday afternoon.
When they arrived in the park, they consulted with rangers about various backcountry hiking and climbing possibilities. They hiked to Delta Lake on Sunday, September 20, and climbed the Southwest Couloir on Middle Teton on Monday. On Tuesday morning, they parked at the Lupine Meadows trailhead and hiked up a portion of the Apex Trail to reach and explore the east flank of Teewinot, according to park officials. During their excursion, they got off course and onto a more vertical slope than they intended, and Mr. Kalmbach accidentally fell while trying to scramble across technical terrain, the park reported.
After Mr. Kalmbach came to rest, Mr. Winiasz scrambled down to him and realized that his friend was unconscious, not breathing and without a pulse, the park reported. Mr. Winiasz used his friend's cell phone to call 911 and the emergency call was transferred to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 1:28 p.m. Tuesday.
Park rangers summoned the contract helicopter that was already working in the vicinity, and used the ship to pinpoint the hikers’ location from the air. Rangers determined that no suitable landing spot was available from which they could stage a mountain-based rescue operation, so they conducted a short-haul mission from the park’s rescue cache at Lupine Meadows on the valley floor.
One ranger with emergency gear was inserted via short-haul into the accident site at 3:30 p.m. Upon arriving, he confirmed that Mr. Kalmbach was deceased. A second ranger was inserted with a rescue litter, and the two placed Mr. Winiasz into an evacuation suit for a short-haul flight to the Lupine Meadows rescue cache. The helicopter made a second flight at 4:30 p.m. to evacuate Mr. Kalmbach. Teton County Coroner Bob Campbell then met the rangers at Lupine Meadows to transport the man's body by vehicle to Jackson, Wyoming.