Grand Teton peak. Credit: NPS
MOOSE, WY - On Saturday July 23, mountain guide Gary Falk fell to his death while assisting clients on a summit of the park’s famous peak, Grand Teton. In an effort to understand how the tragic incident occurred, the National Park Service has conducted interviews with staff and clients of Exum Mountain (Falk’s employer) as well as others in the vicinity of the incident.
Thus far, the NPS has indicated that Falk was leading four clients on the trip, all of whom successfully summited. On the way down, one client successfully completed the rappel down the Owen-Spalding route. The rappel device was sent back up to Falk via rope to be used again, but became stuck in the process. At this point, it is believed Falk unclipped his own tether from an anchor in order to retrieve the device, which effort resulted in his fall. It is not clear if Falk used any alternative method to secure himself and the NPS investigation is ongoing.
Falk, 42, from Ouray, Colorado, had been working for Exum Mountain Guides for 12 years. He is survived by his wife and two young sons. Exum President and co-owner Nat Patridge said, "The Teton Guiding community is devastated with this lost. Gary was a diligent guide, always the consummate professional. Exum is grieving from this news and struggling to comprehend the situation."