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“I tell this story a lot. Basically, I was getting into the field on a mountain goat hunt, and my hunting buddy had to bail. His wife was in a bad way so he took the plane back. I found a goat, and I was so bound and determined, I was so set. This was my first mountain goat and I was going to get it. So, I spent the night up on the mountain just below tree line and it was a nice evening. Just up against a tree waiting for daylight to be able to stalk this goat.
I ended up getting the goat and got caught in an unexpected snow storm. I slipped and fell over 400 feet and it was really gnarly. Here I am with a hyperextended leg, my shoulder was busted up and I had a concussion. My sat phone was in one of my pockets and it actually didn’t break, which was a miracle. It was a miracle I survived the fall, it was a miracle that it worked. So, the first call went through to my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, and she worked at the hospital. She immediately called search and rescue and the state troopers, but the visibility got so bad they flew around and they had to call off the search.
So here I am, stuck on this cliff. When they left, I felt like it was pretty much all on me to get off the mountain. Trying to get down the mountain – that first snow of the year on that slate rock is real slippery and I couldn’t stay up right. I started sliding and I was going through the brush full speed and I grabbed onto a willow brush, just 5 feet from a drop straight off cliff. Now, I’m really stuck. I’ve always been pretty much a religious person, but at this point my prayers had really turned from asking for help to pretty much accepting the fact that it was…it was over. They weren’t coming back, I couldn’t get off the mountain and I’m freezing to death.
Between the time that I tried to get down and fell again, Melinda was told by the troopers the only way they could risk going back out into the storm was if they had an exact location for me. All I had was a sat phone so she researched and found a way to retrieve my exact GPS location. She learned that if I called her back she could press the star button and that would give her a code on her phone and then she could go to the computer and get my longitude/latitude.
I’m sitting there and as I pull the phone out, the battery is blinking. It’s dying. I don’t know any of this (phone locating), I just want to hear her voice and say what I need to say. As I press send she says, “Hello, everything is going to be…” and it died. And I kid you not, that 6 second phone call is what my life came down to.
At that point I had spent 15 hours on the mountain. By the time the Air National Guard flew in, the troopers flew in and identified my location, I had a small light in my pocket so they could identify my location. And these guys came in, and it’s snowing and they had to drop off hikers and hikers got down to me. They finally get me off into the basket, but the turbulence from the props and the wind - I thought I was going to fly out of that thing.
I get to the hospital and of course it’s a “Code Blue”, and everything is going crazy and I’m out of it. Finally, four hours later, the doctor comes in and says, “I don’t know what you’re made out of, but when you arrived here your body temperature was 95.3. I would have given you ten more minutes.”
And from that moment on I have had more of a voice about expressing what the most important things in life are and that’s family and friends and doing what you love to do.”
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