IFMGA and AMGA Mountain Guide Gary Falk Dies After Falling 2,400′ While Guiding Clients Down The Grand Teton In Grand Teton National Park
Moose, Wyoming – On Saturday, July 23, 2016 Gary Falk, an IFMGA and AMGA mountain guide working for Exum Mountain Guides, fell approximately 2,400′ to his death while descending the Grand Teton (13,776′) with a group of four clients.
Falk and his clients had successfully summited the Grand Teton and were descending when the accident occurred. Falk fell roughly 2,400′ from the top of the Owen-Spalding rappel into Valhalla Canyon near the Black Ice Couloir. The accident was reported to Teton Interagency Dispatch at 10:30 AM.
Two GTNP Park Rangers flew in by helicopter to assess the situation. They were dropped off and hiked to scene of the accident. A recovery operation began and Falk’s body was long-lined out. Falk was declared dead later that afternoon.
Another Exum Guide assisted the clients with the rest of their descent.
Falk was an IFMGA and AMGA certified veteran mountain guide who guided for numerous guiding companies. He had worked at Exum for 12 years. He was originally from Ouray, Colorado and was married with two children.
This is a tragic loss for Exum, the guiding world, and the mountain community. RIP.
UPDATE 7/24: According to Buckrail.com and JHNewsandGuide.com, more information has been released about this tragic incident. Based on the latest investigation, the incident occurred after one of four clients rappelled down the Owen-Spalding Rappel. The rappel device was to be used again and was sent back up on rope. When it got stuck, Falk unclipped from the anchor to try to obtain the device. It appears that this is when he fell.
We will try to update this post as more information becomes available.
Read more about this climbing accident on the Grand Teton from these sources: