Tue, Feb 01, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Scottish climber survives 300m fall down mountain

AFP, LONDON

A climber who fell about 300m from the summit of a Scottish mountain is lucky to be alive, his rescuers said on Sunday.

The helicopter crew sent to search for the man were astonished to find him standing up and reading a map.

Adam Potter, 35, lost his footing on Saturday and fell down the craggy and near-vertical eastern face of Sgurr Choinnich Mor, a 1,094m high mountain in the western Scottish Highlands.

“We got to an area where it is a bit more slippy and a bit icier ... I slipped, and that’s when the fall began to happen,” Potter said. “The speed accumulated really fast. I was trying to slow myself down, but every time I slowed myself down I would then go over a cliff edge, so I would get all my speed back.”

“Towards the end I had almost lost all of my speed, then I actually saw what I was about to go over, which was one more cliff, and I actually thought that would be it,” he added. “I thought that might have been the end on that one.”

The Glasgow man, part of a group of 24 climbers, was spotted at about 790m, making his tumble almost 300m from the summit.

A British Royal Navy Sea King helicopter reached the scene 35 minutes later and spotted a man at the bottom of the slope.

“We honestly thought it couldn’t have been him, as he was on his feet, reading a map,” said Lieutenant Tim Barker, the crew’s observer.

“It seemed impossible. So we retraced our path back up the mountain and, sure enough, there were bits of his kit in a vertical line all the way up where he had obviously lost them during the fall,” Barker said. “It was quite incredible. He must have literally glanced off the outcrops as he fell, almost flying.”

A paramedic winched down to check the man, who appeared to be unscathed beyond some superficial cuts and bruises and a minor chest injury.

He was said to be “shaking from extreme emotional shock and the sheer relief at still being alive.”

The man was flown to a Glasgow hospital.

“He is lucky to be alive,” Barker said. “It’s hard to believe that someone could have fallen that distance on that terrain and been able to stand up at the end of it, let alone chat to us in the helicopter.”

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