SALEM, Ore. A backcountry skier who survived a 100-foot fall on Mount Jefferson Friday night is crediting his personal locator beacon for helping him get out safely.
Miko Smilenski, 56, is an experienced skier. He hikes up Mount Jefferson and skis down nearly every weekend. But on Friday, he took an unfamiliar route down and ended up falling 100 feet down a glacier.
I made a left turn and fell over forward and I'm going down a quite steep, snowy slope that had rocks and, boy, I hit everyone of them all the way to the little trees, Smilenski said.
He shattered his right leg in four spots and hit his head multiple times. Luckily, at the urging of his friends, he had recently purchased a personal locator beacon.
Smilenski activated the beacon around 5 p.m., which pinged the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Panama City, Florida.
The rescue center then alerted the Marion County Sheriff s Office. Crews were able to locate Smilenski just after 10 p.m. and air-lift him out early Saturday morning.
Now, he s recovering at Salem Hospital. He is crediting the beacon for helping him get out quickly, and urges anyone headed into the wilderness to purchase one.
He also said he s not ready to put away his skis just yet.
I love the mountain and I love skiing because it helps me access parts of myself I wouldn't otherwise access, he said.
Wayne Havrelly contributed to this report.