The Grand Teton from the Middle Teton
July 31st, 1984
The day before, we had hiked up to The Meadows, a camping spot east of the Middle Teton. That evening we socialized with two friendly climbers from Idaho (Daniel Meteer and Chris Page), who told us they were attempting the North Ridge of the Middle the next day. Early the next morning the weather did not look good (Tetons not visible in a fog), but we left anyway for the Buckingham Ridge on the SE side of the Middle Teton.
My partner Stefan was a European I had met the day before, he would smoke a cigarette at every belay. The weather was still cloudy and unsettled, but we decided we might as well start the route and rappel off if (or when) it started raining. We climbed most of the route in a dense fog, it was pretty spooky. Another party behind us became worried enough that they rappelled off diagonally to the right, but after the sun appeared briefly they started climbing up parallel to us. This photo was taken about 500' below the summit with the leader of the other party giving the thumbs up. I believe he is actually on the NE Snowfields route at this point.
When we reached the summit (maybe 1 PM), it was still very cloudy although the sun would sometimes shine. We spotted a nasty storm due west which was bearing down on us so we didn't stay long. We moved quickly down the SW Couloir route, the easiest route on the Middle Teton. When the storm hit we were crouching under boulders about halfway from the summit back to camp.
Once in camp, there was no sign of our friends of the night before. As we were finishing dinner about 6PM in intermittent rain, an apparition stumbled into camp. It was Chris Page, psychologically wrecked and crying uncontrollably. It was at least 10 minutes before he could talk coherently. He said they had been caught by the lightning storm and Daniel Meteer had started a rappel when the anchor pulled, and he and the rope had disappeared from Chris' sight. [We learned eventually that Daniel Meteer had fallen several hundred feet down the NW side of the peak and was already dead]. Chris was able to downclimb the rest of the route in the storm without a rope. This accident is recounted in great detail in the 1985 edition of Accidents in North American Mountaineering.
Stefan was on his way down and agreed to report the accident to the
rangers (unfortunately, in his broken English he reported that
the accident had occured on the South Teton)!
Meanwhile myself and other climbers camped nearby pondered
mounting a rescue attempt as darkness fell and the rain intensified.
Chris finally was able to tell us he had spoken to a guide at
the Lower Saddle, and we figured the climbers there were better
positioned for a rescue.