The human will to survive is amazing, even when the body is broken. The harrowing YouTube video at the end of this article captures the disastrous climbing fall of Dr. John All and his several hour ordeal to escape and seek medical attention (shortened to a few minutes of course).
Setting the Scene
Dr. John All wasn't even supposed to be climbing Mount Himlung in the first place. As an associate professor, scientist, and mountaineer, Dr. All was in Nepal in April 2014 to gather samples for climate change research. His plan was to take his team to climb Mount Lhotse to conduct their scientific research.At the time, Dr. All was camped out at the base of Mount Everest waiting for his team to arrive so they could embark on their research quest. Everest was already conquered by Dr. All back in 2010 when he summited the beast as part of his Fulbright fellowship program. Now the agenda was to partially climb Everest before heading on to Lhotse.[caption id="attachment_11538" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]
Source: http://www.johnall.com/[/caption]Unfortunately, nature had other plans. A deadly avalanche struck Everest, killing 16 people and becoming the single deadliest event on the mountain. Some of the victims were members of Dr. All's team.This horrific tragedy devastated the country, but those with personal relationships with the victims took it hardest. Still dealing with the grief, Dr. All got word that the team could be transferred to a nearby mountain named Himlung. The climb would be easier and safer while still providing good data samples.Dr. All went forward with the mission, posting to the group's website that "the important thing is that the science will continue".[caption id="attachment_11540" align="aligncenter" width="500"]
The Day of the Disaster
On May 19, 2014 Dr. All was climbing on his own. Two of his teammates already summited the mountain and did not want to climb again, one teammate was sick with a stomach virus and the other teammate decided to escort her to base camp to rest while Dr. All continued collecting samples.
Dr. All was walking around as normal when suddenly he fell through the ice. He tried to stop himself by pounding his ax into the wall, but the effort only served to rip his arm out of the socket. Falling down a 70-foot crevasse, his body smashed against the ice a few times before he came to a stop on a ledge.The fall broke the ribs on his right side and his right arm seized up soon after, leaving him with just a functional right foot, left leg, and left arm. His face was cut as you can see blood dripping down his nose and covering his eye. The snow around him is also splattered with blood. The situation is bleak, to say the least.[caption id="attachment_11541" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]
Source: http://www.johnall.com/[/caption]Dr. All takes ten minutes to assess the situation before turning on his camera and calmly relaying the state of his situation to the viewer: "I'm pretty well f*****"Out of breath, he describes what happened and his plan of attack. Instead of panicking, as most people would do in this terrifying situation, he remains impressively level-headed.Thirty-five minutes later, he turns the camera back on to report his progress. He made little distance due to his injuries and is severely out of breath. Now the path has become even more difficult.Ninety minutes later he finally makes it to the upper section, but the loose snow makes climbing almost impossible. He comments that he is struggling to talk due to the pain, which he believes is due to a broken rib or his chest filling with blood. Once again, he recounts his progress and walks through the next step in his action plan.The last shot is him giving himself a pep talk saying he is so close and he can do it. The entire escape took around five hours. Once he made it out, he crawled and rolled back to his tent and contacted help. Eighteen hours later, a helicopter arrived.Dr. All was climbing alone, which ended up aiding his survival. As he stated, "If somebody else had been with me, we both would have died. There's no question. Because I would have fallen in the crevasse, they would have fallen on top of me, and we would have killed each other"Dr. All's video only shows a few minutes, but it is enough for the viewer to get a sense of the peril he was in. What's incredible is how calm he remains throughout the video. As he talks in the video, it is as if he is merely verbally processing the situation rather than trying to establish himself as the brave hero pushing on through the pain that deserves your admiration.As Dr. All later said, "I wasn't giving myself any room for doubt, and I think documenting it sort of it reaffirmed that for me. I will show this to people. Plus, I'm a scientist, I document everything."In the end, Dr. All broke 15 bones (including 6 vertebrae), dislocated his shoulder, and bled internally. As Dr. All commented, "It's amazing how broken a body can be and still be functioning."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-LmuBc8lWc&feature=youtu.beDr. All's chilling experience mountain climbing is just one of his many near death encounters, from being chased by a wild hyena to coming too close for comfort with black mamba snakes. He details every harrowing journey in his recent book "Icefall: Adventures at the Wild Edges of Our Dangerous, Changing Planet".