Wyoming Legislator and local resident Rep. Marti Halverson will be turning her attention to her family for the remainder of the primary election season. She is running for re-election to House District 22.
Halverson was returning from the National Republican Convention in Cleveland when she received news of the death of her son, Gary Falk, a 42-year-old a mountain guide for Exum in Jackson. Grand Teton National Park officials report Saturday, July 23 park rangers responded to reports of a climbing accident at approximately 10:30 a.m. At that time, the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center was notified that “an individual fell in Valhalla Canyon and was believed to be seriously or fatally injured.”
“Park rangers responded with a reconnaissance flight to survey the situation and two rangers from that flights were inserted in the area via helicopter and hiked to the scene,” the park report states. “It was determined that the individual was deceased and a recovery effort was initiated.”
The individual was identified as Falk, who was leading a group of clients on a climb of the Grand Teton at the time of the accident. According to information provided by Grand Teton National Park, Falk and the four clients he was leading had already “successfully summited the Grand Teton,” earlier in the day.
The accident occurred during the descent at “the top of the Owen-Spalding Rappel into Valhalla Canyon, near the Black Ice Couloir.”
A park report explained a client “successfully rappelled down the Owen-Spalding Rappel” and was returning the rappel device back up a rope for additional clients. However, “the rappel device got wedged on the way up,” and it is believed Falk fell while “trying to free the wedged rappel device.” The fall was estimated at 2,400 feet.
Falk, 42, from Ouray, Colo., has been working for Exum Mountain Guides for 12 years. He has a wife and two young sons. “The Teton Guiding community is devastated with this loss,” said Exum President and co-owner Nat Patridge. “Gary was a diligent guide, always the consummate professional.”
Patridge concluded, “Exum is grieving from this news and struggling to comprehend the situation. Our love goes out to Kate and their sons.”