GTNP Investigation Into Guide Fatality


An investigation by Grand Teton National Park Rangers into the death of Exum Mountain Guide Gary Falk on Saturday,  has revealed what that may explain what led up to this climbing fatality.  Rangers interviewed Exum clients and employees, and others that were in the vicinity of the incident.

All four clients that Falk was leading successfully summited the Grand Teton on Saturday, July 23, 2016,

On the descent, Falk fell from the top of the Owen Spalding Rappel into Valhalla Canyon near the Black Ice Couloir. The fall was approximately 2,400 feet.  His body was recovered via helicopter.

The Teton County Coroner’s office declared Falk deceased Saturday afternoon.   

The first client successfully rappelled down the Owen-Spalding Rappel,The rappel device that the first client used was to be used again, and was sent back up to Falk via rope,

The rappel device got wedged on the way up, and Falk unclipped his tether from the anchor to reposition himself to better access the wedged rappel device,

Witness accounts could not identify alternative methods Falk used to attach himself to the mountain, and It appears that Falk fell as he was trying to free the wedged rappel device. 

Another Exum guide assisted the clients with their descent.

The 42 year-old Falk was from Ouray, Colorado, and had been working for Exum Mountain Guides for 12 years.

Park rangers will continue to investigate the fatality, and anticipate a final report in approximately 30 days. 

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