A mountain guide at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park died on Saturday after falling about 2,400 feet into a canyon.
Gary Falk, 42, was leading a group of clients to the summit of the Grand Teton when he fell into the Valhalla Canyon, according to a statement released by the National Parks Service. Local News 8 reported that Falk was descending with the group when he fell from the Owen Spalding Rappel.
It is unclear what caused the mountain guide to slip and fall at the Grand Teton Park.
Falk, who worked for Exum Mountain Guides, is said to be a 12-year veteran. A brief description of Falk on Exum Mountain Guides’ website states that he is an extensive climber and has traversed several mountains in the U.S. and neighboring states. He reportedly even completed the Grand Traverse, a trek through some of the highest points in Grand Teton.
Two park rangers were dropped into the canyon to assess the situation after Falk fell. He was hauled to safety by a helicopter on a long-line. Falk was later pronounced dead by the Teton County coroner.
Following the announcement that the Grand Teton Park mountain guide is dead, many people have paid tribute to Falk on social media.
“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,” Nat Patridge, the co-owner and president of Exum Mountain Guides, said in a statement.
Patridge revealed that Exum would suspend its operations on Sunday in honor of Falk. Meanwhile, San Juan Mountain Guides have revealed on Facebook that a bell would be rung in memory of the late mountain guide at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Climber’s Memorial.
Falk is survived by a wife and two sons, according to Local News 8. There has been no announcement yet about funerary plans for the late mountain guide.
The Grand Teton National Park is one of the most popular parks in the country. Besides climbing mountains, visitors to the Grand Teton can also camp, enjoy a boat ride and fish. During the winter months, the park is an ideal destination for winter sports. Last year, the Grand Teton welcomed up to 4.6 million visitors, according to the Rapid City Journal.
Prior to the announcement of the death of Falk at the Grand Teton, the park had been getting some attention in the press following the release of a video of time-lapse photography and some footages of the park.
According to Post Register, the video, which was created by three brothers, is part of a project by the group called More Than Just Parks. The brothers explained that they decided to embark on the project to capture the beauty of national parks across the country and share it with others.
Meanwhile, Authorities at the Grand Teton have been on high alert as a huge fire continues to rage a mountain in northwest Wyoming. The Lava Mountain fire, which was ignited by lightning more than two weeks ago, has now covered more than 4,000 acres, according to KTVQ. Hundreds of firefighters are at the scene attempting to control the flames. Several locals have reportedly been told to evacuate their homes as the fire is spreading quickly.
While the fire has not had any direct impact on the Grand Teton National Park, the Yellowstone Insider reported last week that a popular route leading to the park was closed. It was reportedly opened later. A family visiting the Grand Teton allegedly complained to ABC Fox Montana that the smoke in the park made it impossible to see the mountains clearly.
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