Submitted May 20, 2009

Surviving a mountain fall

I was long ago, a backpacking guide in the Tetons with a bunch of teens. Two of us "LEADERS" decided to cross an ice field on a mountain side (duh..) without pick axes. (Here's your clue). We dug our hiking boots into the snow/ice. One of my feet slipped, I fell onto my back (this is where it gets good) and again, no pick axe to stop me, I slid very rapidly as the backpack was nylon - excellent material for picking up speed down a slope. I mean, really excellent. I can't tell you how fast I was going, since I didn't have my speedometer exactly handy, and I was ass over teakettle the whole way down, about 100+ feet or further (hard to measure in somersaults), hitting a different part of my body each bounce against something (like ah, well a boulder). Oh yes, no helmet either. Hmm. Did I say I was a leader?

Okay, for the finale after my last speed somersault into the air, I landed on my back into some very sharp talus - piled up sharp shards of rock that have tumbled down the mountain over a millennium. I might add that that hurts. I didn't open my eyes because I was afraid of the sight of blood at that time and the only thought that came to mind was 'will they get me out by mule, or helicopter?'. Eventually I opened my eyes, stood up unhurt except one bruise and my pride. A pick axe would have been handy (however in my case, looking back, that might have ended me). I survived that fall partly due to the back pack while it was part of the reason I went a mile a minute down that mountain side. Surviving it I believe was more of a miracle and the testament to human stupidity vs angels of God. Saying 'no' to something not in my scope of ability without the right tools would have been a good tool to have as well. Oh yes, I thought I broke my hand, turned out it was a good sprain, but still tough to cinch up hiking boots for the rest of the trip.

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