SOOO.. Last night was chatting with some friends and randomly our "close call" stories came up...Everyones got a interesting "I almost died" story...I have a few funny encounters but this is my masterpiece...Enjoy....
In early 2009 I went on a 10 day adventure to visit my good friend Jackie who was living in Australia. Jackie and I always did fun adventurous stuff, from mountain climbing, to mountain biking, and my favorite---abseiling (which is repelling off of mountains, etc).
After completing a 3 day beautiful hike on the "6 foot track" in the blue mountains, we hung over night in a hostile to wake up the next day and go for a 3 hour hike which led us to a 100 ft high water fall abseil at the end (which ends in a national park). Jackie had done this trail before so we started our hike..over some 'red' tape, and through the woods we went with full suits and helmets. This was a wet trail and was beautiful. Small waterfall jumps, rock slides, etc.
So much fun.
2.5 hours later we arrived at our destination. The 100 ft waterfall! I couldn't wait! Jackie decided she would go first off our rope, so down she went. Then it was my turn. I was using an old style figure 8 with no ears. Anyways, this waterfall had a little lip that you had to push over to start your decent. It left you with slack for about 2 seconds before you started going down. During that two seconds of slack, my rope flipped on itself, and caught. I was literally stuck under this waterfall with the water in my mouth at an enormous speed. I was going to drown. With all my might I moved my body and somehow managed to go down another 2 feet and that was it.
But at least not right at the lip, however only a few frustrating feet under and about 6 feet above the second ledge of the waterfall.
So close but yet so far…
A few minutes later I realized I wasn't going anywhere so i screamed down to Jackie that I was stuck and to go get help. Luckily the ending was at a national park where people were walking. It was still early in the morning but she managed to find someone with a cell phone and they called for help.
Meanwhile, I was pulling up the 100 feet of rope under me to throw to the side. There was a small ledge under me that you could actually get to from the ground by climbing up, so I threw it to the side and Jackie used my rope and hers to climb up to the ledge. There she sat, pulling as much of me as she could our of the freezing cold water (yes even with a wetsuit), leaving only my left side under the waterfall.
And she sat, and I hung, for 3 hours! At first she counted for me to move my legs "1, 2, 3, 4…" so I wouldn't get harness syndrome.
Time went on and on forever, because my rescuers had to hike the 2 hours to get to me. As time went on, I slowly started to get colder and colder and less responsive with her counting…"1, 2, 3…No that wasn't 3…Start over…" Just as I was thinking I was going to pass out and who knows what, I hear them above me…My rescuers! They were there, but they were arguing about what size rope to use for training!!
HELLO!! Im dying here!
The aussie guy repels down to me and cuts my rope and then thinks he is going to bring me all the way down to the pool below. Why not just the next ledge and swing in?? I mentioned that I would pass out if I felt any more freezing water and he would have to swim me out, so I guess he decided then on the ledge just below!
When my feet hit the ground, tears of joy hit my cheeks!
I warmed up and started walking down, and surprisingly felt ok. I wanted to hike out, but they insisted that I wait for the helicopter that had been hovering and RAN OUT OF GAS so had to go refill, because they are in contract with them so I have to take the ride out?!?! HA!
So we waited for the helicopter to come back, they dropped 150 ft of rope and a harness and I was strapped to this aussie and lifted out of the canyon.
It was the most beautiful ride ever!
When they got me in the heli. the nurse asked if I was ok and if I wanted to go to the hospital. Of course, I declined so they landed in some random field and let me go! Strangely enough I asked the rescuers if they could tell me what I did wrong so I can correct myself for next time and they said they had never seen anything like that before and they were going to write about it in their magazine about how to try to avoid this happening.
So…this is my story of my near death experience. Its crazy how fast things can happen. Had my rope flipped the other way I would have just dropped…a few more seconds under that water I would have passed out…If I went first and got stuck without Jackie on the ground, I don't know how we would have gotten to any help, because you can't hike back up!
I couldn't wait to get warm, and the next day we went canyoning again! This time it was a 'dry' canyon, but I was able to restore my faith in myself and that sport and came home with some crazy memories!