On Tuesday, May 1, Alan Rooney (38) and Jonathan Morrow (28) were found dead in Valhalla Canyon at the base of the Black Ice and Enclosure couloirs below the northwest face of the Grand Teton (13,770′), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Due to dangerous conditions, Park officials, who spotted the bodies by helicopter at 10:30 a.m., waited until the afternoon to make the recoveries in a series of shuttles up and down Cascade and Valhalla Canyons.
The park was first notified of the missing climbers at 8:20 a.m. on Monday by a concerned friend. Rangers were dispatched to Garnet Canyon that day.
Rooney and Morrow likely perished on Sunday, April 29. They had planned to climb either the Black Ice Couloir or Enclosure Couloir, according to Christian Santelices, a guide who encountered the pair in Garnet Meadows, a camping area in Garnet Canyon, Saturday evening. Santelices had taken a client up the Enclosure on the Grand Teton massif that day, and warned Rooney and Morrow of ugly conditions on the Grand: warm weather and heavy snow. Reaching either couloir requires an approach around the west side of the Grand Teton/Enclosure massif via the Valhalla Traverse, a mix of snow, ice and loose rock that is notorious for difficult route-finding.
The pair were found roped together in Valhalla Canyon, a drainage below both the Black Ice and Enclosure couloirs on the northwest face of the Grand. Rangers initially reported there was no avalanche debris covering the bodies; more recent reports document a failed anchor along the Valhalla Traverse. The cause of the anchor failure is unknown. An investigation is ongoing.
The two had climbed and skied together frequently in the Tetons this winter, and were planning a summer trip to Peru. Rooney, in particular, was experienced in the mountains, having done a number of notable ascents in the Tetons, Yosemite and Alaska.
“They showed up with big grins on their faces,” Santelices said. “They were fired up. That’s what I’ll remember about them.”