A solo climber who was found dead at the base of a technical route on Teewinot Mountain in Grand Teton National Park was identified by park authorities Monday.
Park rangers responded to a report Saturday of climber who found the body of 42-year-old Hitoshi Onoe, a Japanese national who worked in San Jose, California.
Rangers climbed to the scene of the accident and helicoptered the body off the mountain. The National Park Service is conducting an investigation into the accident.
“Onoe appears to have been climbing alone with the intent of climbing the East Face route based on the marked map found with him,” the park said in a news release. “Route finding is difficult in the area.”
The park said the Japanese consulate has provided communication with Onoe’s family in Japan and next-of-kin notifications have been made.
The standard east face route on Teewinot is considered Class 4 scrambling, but it is easy to stray from the route and move into Class 5 (technical) climbing best done with ropes and climbing gear. The Class 4 terrain often turns hard if a passing storm covers the rock in water or ice, and can snare unprepared climbers.
Prior to Onoe’s death, there have been seven other deaths on Teewinot since 2014. In analyzing the climbing deaths of two women in 2017, the American Alpine Club pointed to the ease of getting off route on Teewinot.
“It’s often easy to convince yourself that you’re on-route, matching terrain features to guidebook descriptions or memory,” the club said in an accident report. “Had the climbers recognized that the increased difficulty they encountered meant they were likely off-route, they might have stopped, retraced their steps, and returned to easier ground before it was too late. … It is also not uncommon to utilize ropes and rock protection to ascend and descend the normal route on Teewinot, when the rock is wet, icy, or when climbers feel uncomfortable with the exposure.”