As spectacular as the visuals were, it was the sound that caught Maureen “Mo” Connor’s attention.

The Snake River guide was assembling her passengers at Moose in Grand Teton National Park last Sept. 4 when she heard it.

“You’re busy greeting your clients, getting organized, explaining,” the veteran river runner said. Then…

“What the heck?” Connor thought. “It was really loud.”

“I looked up and saw amazing stuff.” A billowing cloud of dust enveloped Teepe Glacier below the East Ridge of the 13,775-foot Grand Teton seven miles away.

The cacophony and dust were from a cascade of boulders.

“This is a strange thing,” she thought as she took a picture. “That is a really large rockfall.

“It was an exciting and unusual moment,” one she directed her clients to witness, Connor said.

The gaggle of float-tripping tourists had assembled for an awesome encounter with the natural forces of the Snake River, however, and were nonchalant about the distant thunder cloud. The guides had to tell the visitors “This is really unusual.”

“I think we were more amazed than our people,” Connor said. “We stood there with our mouths open.”

Connor immediately worried about climbers who might have been in the area, whether an earthquake provoked the event and, if it did, whether one ought to be floating downstream from the dam at Jackson Lake.

The incident turned out to be a partial collapse of a feature known as the Second Tower. The Sept. 4 rockfall and subsequent similar events changed the famous Teton skyline forever.

While on the Snake River on Sept. 4, 2022, Maureen Connor took another photograph of the Grand Teton’s crumbling Second Tower. (Maureen Connor)

Connor and other guides took their three raft-loads of clients upriver to their launch at Deadmans Bar and put on. About an hour and a half later and four and a half miles downstream from their put-in, Connor saw another dust cloud and took a second photograph.

She couldn’t tell whether the skyline had changed. “I’m not as intimate with each ridge as some people are,” she said.

Her second picture hints at a new profile. But more rockfall over subsequent days likely whittled the Second Tower further before its new shape became apparent to keen observers from the valley floor 6,900 feet below.

“Rockfall happens, I think, more than people realize,” said Connor, whose 45-year river career has been a study in erosion on the Snake and Salmon Rivers. On the scenic stretch of the Snake, where the river eats at banks dozens of feet high, guides are wary of a slump washing into the flow and creating a big wave.

It happened over in Idaho. “One of the bigger rapids on the main Salmon to me is a new rapid because it wasn’t there when I started,” she said.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at or (307)...

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  1. The Tetons won’t exist as we know them for long, in geologic terms. They are mass-wasting away.

    1. Fun fact. The Rocky Mountains are still growing, not shrinking (although erosion and such rockfalls take their toll).

  2. The Tetons are the one place I must see. It’s a shame some people don’t appreciate Nature’s remarkable events. Great pics to Mo!

    1. My feelings exactly. I love nature I’m grateful 🙏 for its my peace. What a beautiful and wonderful new look . This is God’s work. The original ‘ botox’ shot.. what an awesome day you had Mo! Thank you for being there to see one of our Nature’s Natural Wonderful Spectaculer creations in the world. I cherish every moment of its existence! Thank you ! 😊

  3. I remember taking that Snake River raft trip in 1977 when I was a child. Beautiful ride and lol, calm enough for my mom to be willing to get on the raft. Glad to hear these trips are still going. Thank you to dedicated people like Connor who are keeping it alive for others.

    Very interesting names of the peaks. I can’t help but see the parallel to 9-11 and the names of the First and Second Tower, and I presume, similar, at some level, sites caused this time by an earthquake.

    It’s interesting that such structures would be able to be altered, but it just goes to show how powerful an earthquake truly is. Glad I know Who is in control of it all.

  4. I was up in the Kenai NWF above the treeline hunting in 2017 when I seen something very similar. I was solo camping at the base of a large mountain and the month was July. One morning I awoke to the sound of rumble and thunder, startled I burst from my tent to see the entire top of the mountain covered in a cloud of dust. When my pilot picked me up in a few days I told him what I seen. The way he explained it is you get some warm days at high altitude and the ice that holds a lot of the rock together starts to weaken. When it weekends enough it lets loose the rock that it’s been holding back. Ice in a mountain glacier is what hold most of the mountain together.

  5. Wow! In 1983 there were a lot of problems out west and the pass through the Grand Tetons was one lane at a time. The Green River had flooded some areas. We drove through Jackson, which was dry. Yellowstone had some problems, but things went well until we arrived at Big Sur, where the mudslides had closed off the PCH headed south from there. The late snowfall and early spring created a lot of problems, but none like what happened to the Second Tower.

  6. I enjoy article as such!
    Would like to see and learn more I am 67yrs in age,Female!
    Have Grandchildren and Greatgrand children! Whom love when I share with them!

    1. This is occurring in the magnificent state of Wyoming in the mountains on the western side of the state.

    2. The website is “” and the Tetons are in Wyoming so I think it’s safe to assume that it is in Wyoming. The Snake River starts in Wyoming and flows south across the East face of the Tetons.

  7. Oi Angus! Some of us who live among the hills and bluffs of Wisconsin are fascinated with the mountains you folks live on or with. More photos of the rock fall would be helpful, this having been an event worth publishing. Questions: Has a cause been determined? Was anyone on the mountain or hurt because of the event?

  8. Glad that didn’t happen when my husband was up there! What year was that?? MaryPat were you there then?

    1. Hmmm, article was written in 2023 and it clearly says it happened last September 4th. I’m not a math wizard, so maybe you can tell us? 🤔