The two men, both in their late 20s, are believed to be recent residents of Bozeman, Montana. They reportedly had several years of ice and mountain climbing experience. Their identities are being withheld pending both confirmation and notification of family members.
Friends contacted the park about 1:00 p.m. Monday afternoon, to report the pair had left Sunday for a day hike from Artist Point and had not returned.
As search efforts got underway Monday afternoon, further investigation revealed that the two had actually set out on Saturday to ice climb Silver Cord Cascade. This series of waterfalls originates from the South Rim of the canyon, northeast of Artist Point. It drops several hundred feet to the canyon floor into the Yellowstone River.
After rescuers stationed on a North Rim viewpoint observed what appeared to be an immobile individual and climbing gear on the climb, a technical rescue operation commenced.
As darkness fell Monday evening, a rescue team member was able to rappel into the canyon. The men were observed dead on a rock ledge about 300 feet below the canyon rim. Initial observations of the scene and gear configuration indicate that the fall was likely due to collapse of the ice column during the men’s ascent. A helicopter and three climbing rangers from Grand Teton National Park have joined a Yellowstone rescue team of about 20 individuals. Recovery efforts continue today, hampered by foul weather and the remote scene location.
UPDATE: The two men were from Casper. The body of one was recovered late Thursday; the search for the second will resume Friday.