Teewinot Mountain

Grand Teton National Park rangers discovered a dead climber Saturday at the base of the Black Chimney climbing route on Teewinot Mountain.

The Park has not said what route the man was climbing, though many climbers regard the general area where he was found as hard to navigate.

The park is withholding the man’s identity until his family can be notified. Park spokesman CJ Adams told the Jackson Hole Daily via text that he had not received confirmation as of Sunday afternoon that next of kin had been notified and so could not provide his name.

But, responding to rumors swirling on social media, Adams said the dead climber was not Cian McLaughlin, the Irish Jacksonite who disappeared in the Tetons earlier this summer.

The National Park Service is investigating the accident and has released little information about what happened aside from details included in a Saturday evening news release.

Climbing rangers responded Saturday after a separate climber ascending Teewinot reported finding a deceased man at the base of the Black Chimney. The man was likely alone and planning to climb the East Face, based on a marked map found with him, the release said.

Adams told the Daily that the incident that led to the man’s death likely occurred Friday and rangers were notified around noon Saturday. The park recovered his remains with a helicopter.

Teewinot has claimed a number of lives over the years, most recently in May 2018 when a Jackson nurse appeared to have slipped and fallen on a high-angle snowfield.

It’s not clear how the as-yet-unnamed climber discovered Saturday died. The Teton County Coroner did not respond to a request for comment by press time Sunday.

Route finding up the East Face, a 5,600-foot, fourth class climb that many people attempt without ropes because of its classification, is notoriously difficult.

“It’s very underrated,” said Jim Woodmencey, the Mountain Weather meteorologist who also worked as a Jenny Lake climbing ranger for 14 summers. “It’s real easy to get off-route there. There’s so many ledges and goat paths from people zig zagging up the East Face.”

The Black Chimney is a variation of the East Face and rated 5.6: More difficult than the typical East Face ascent.

Two Jackson women died in August 2015 in the area after getting off-route and falling off a ledge.

Leigh Ortenburger and Reynold Jackson’s book “A Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range” warns that “careful routefinding is essential” on the East Face.

Ortenburger and Jackson say there is a “steep rotten section” in the Black Chimney variation that “often has black ice in it.”

“At best, the Black Chimney is a treacherous place because of the rotten rock,” they write.

Contact Alexander Shur at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

Alexander has reported on courts and crime since June 2021. A fan of all things outdoors, he came to Teton County after studying journalism at Northwestern University.

Teton County Reporter

Billy Arnold has covered government and policy since January 2020, sitting through hours of Teton County meetings so readers don't have to. He moonlights as a ski reporter, helps with pandemic coverage and sneaks away to climb when he can.

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