Now and again we hear great experiences reported by SOLO students applying their skills in various situations. We were happy to receive this recent report from a patient’s perspective and feel thankful that time was taken share this with us. If you have a SOLO related experience to report, we’d love to hear it!
I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of your students, “A.S.” and would like to tell you of how well he performed in the field.
Two Saturdays I was at the Texaco amphitheater with my husband and brother to do some ice climbing. I was to lead, which I love doing! The ice was hard, very hard and I had some difficulty getting good purchase with my axes but it was fine and I was comfortable. When I got about ten feet up I went to place my first screw. I couldn’t get it started; the ice where I was climbing was so hard. I placed my axes into the ice the best I could and tried again to no avail. I picked a hole into the ice knowing that would help but still was unable to get the screw started. At this point I was nervous; my hands and arms got pumped out and my legs started shaking like Elvis. Because I wasn’t able to get good placement with my axes I couldn’t see how to down climb. Not long after this my hands could no longer grip the tools and I fell.
The next thing I remember was a man I didn’t know at my feet asking me questions about what hurt, what my name was, who I was with……This was A.S. who I knew was making sure I hadn’t hit my head and concussed myself. About this time, he started asking other climbers who were there for very specific items such as a pad, down jackets for padding, webbing or strapping; he was going to build a splint for my right ankle. While he was building the splint around my ankle he kept eye contact with me and continued asking me questions and speaking with me the entire time, reassuring me that I would be alright, hadn’t broken anything and would be able to walk out of there.
Once the splint was on and well secured, we started brain storming on how we would get me out of there. We were over a mile from the parking lot, and up the side of a mountain. A.S. noticed that I had started shivering and made sure I got a warm down jacket on to keep me warm. The plan became that my other crampon would come off and in it’s place I would wear my microspike. I was given a tool for one of my hands to use to arrest myself and a rope was tied around my waist to hold me back. A.S. and my Brother were in front of me clearing any debris out of my way while I shuffled on my backside all the way to the flat.
When we got to the flat my brother along with a couple of others ran to his truck to take the top of his Thule box off so that we could use it as a sled. A.S., my husband and another climber carried me fireman style with the third person holding my leg up. They carried me like this for about 3/4 of a mile and we stopped on occasion for them to rest.
There was one final steep to get me down and then my brother was right along with the top to his box. We tied one rope around me going forward and one around me going backward so that I wouldn’t slide anywhere unnecessarily. A.S. made sure that I was as comfortable as possible and got my backpack underneath my leg for shock absorption and support.
From that point it was about 1/4 mile back to the truck where A.S. helped get me out of the make shift sled and into the back seat of the truck for the ride to the hospital.
I tell you all of this because A.S. took the lead in my rescue. He was professional, calm, had his head together and got me safely out of there. It was obvious that he knew what he was doing and I am thankful for that and to you for teaching him the skills that he has.
My ankle required surgery as I had some shattering of the talus and broke the neck of it. The surgeon has remarked on more than one occasion how impressed he was that my foot wasn’t more swollen and in worse shape than it was. I chalk this up to A.S. and his Wilderness First Responder education. I am forever grateful that A.S. was in the woods at that climb on that day.