'I'm so lucky': Canadian teen climber rescued after falling down mountain
TORONTO -- A 16-year-old Canadian climber is in hospital with a broken leg after falling over 150 metres down Oregon’s Mount Hood and enduring an eight-hour rescue.
Experienced climber Gurbaz Singh was ascending the state’s highest point with friends on Wednesday -- well on his way to completing his 98th climb-- when about 100 metres from the summit, disaster struck and Singh fell.
“I was trying to use all of the things that I had learned [to stop], but I lost my ice axe and I wasn’t able to stop my tumble, because as you tumble you gain more momentum,” the B.C. resident said from his hospital bed in a Skype interview with CTV News Wednesday night.
Unable to stop himself falling down the side of the mountain, Singh fell from the “Pearly Gates” section of the climb down to a section known as the “Devil’s Kitchen.”
Mel Olson, a climber who was on the mountain with Singh and saw the accident, said “it was horrible.”
“I got out of the way and he just went down,” Olson said.
Singh said that people were able to reach him “relatively quickly” after the fall, and that while he was hanging upside down for a time, some EMT personnel who were also on the mountain helped him “get through the initial pain” of the fall.
“They really helped me, they literally saved my life,” Singh said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Singh also credits his training and wearing a helmet as reasons why his injuries weren’t more severe.
“We looked at my helmet afterwards and it was just destroyed…I’m so lucky,” he said.
Rescuers located Singh and managed to splint his leg, then began the slow descent down the mountain four hours after his initial fall.
The agency tweeted that the rescue would be several hours long “due to the location and elevation.”
“This is a technical mountain, this isn’t a Sunday stroll,” said Lt. Brian Jenson of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s inherently dangerous.”
Singh’s father Rishamdeep said that he was “so humbled” and “grateful” to the rescuers, calling them heroes.
Singh has reported that he is faring well in hospital and can get around on crutches, but will be easing back into climbing once he is fully recovered.
“I’m still processing everything,” he said. “I’m taking it one day at a time, trying to get back up on my feet.”
Approximately 10,000 attempts are made by climbers to summit Mount Hood annually. Rescuers are called in about 70 times a year.
With files from CNN