What It's Like to Fall Off a Cliff
British ice climber Mark Roberts, 47, skidded 100 feet down an ice cliff in Wales, winding up with nothing worse than a broken ankle — and a YouTube video to prove it.
When some falling ice, possibly dislodged by a climbing partner further up the mountain, hit Roberts, he started a dizzying slide that ended when his pack and crampons caught a ledge. His helmet may have saved his life, and the camera atop it captured the video.
“I was a little dazed and knew there was some damage to my ankles which were fairly painful if they were moved,” Roberts told the BBC.
The video shows the life-long climber using his axes to slow his descent, but he eventually loses his grip on them. A rescue team happened to be in the area, and he was airlifted to a hospital. Besides the broken ankle, Roberts suffered a bone chip and bruises.
“Accidents do happen, but Mark was well-equipped, wearing a helmet, and that probably saved his life,” rescuer Elfyn Jones told the BBC.
In his non-climbing life, Roberts is a safety consultant.
“You have to laugh sometimes,” he told the British Mountaineering Council. “But, seriously, even with experience of risk assessment and making decisions, sometimes things just happen. When it all happens so quickly, you just try not panic and hope there’s some luck with you.”
Photo: Screen capture from British Mountaineering Council (BMC) video.