A Seattle man fell 160 feet down a crevasse while back-country skiing near Whistler Resort in British Columbia on Friday, and amazingly came away with no injuries.
Nikolai Popov, who described his experience on a hiking website, said he was headed for Mount Pattison with a man he had met on the lift.
Popov was 50-60 meters behind his younger companion when he saw a long crack ahead of him. He approached cautiously and started probing it with his pole to see if it was a crevasse and how strong the snow bridge was.
“And then it happened: the snow I was standing on collapsed and before I knew it I found myself at the bottom of a crevasse,” he said.
Photos: Seattle man survives fall into crevasse
He said it soon became clear that he wasn’t at the bottom of the crevasse. He wasn’t sure how deep it was but after some exploration he could see that it was much deeper on either side.
He said the good news was that he was not injured and was not at the bottom of the crevasse. The bad news, he said, was that there were solid walls of ice north and south, with big overhanging cornices at the top.
“One of those cornices was humongous and was the main threat: it was a warm day; I could see cracks in the cornices, and it was a matter of time before they collapsed,” he said.
Popov said even if he had had ice climbing equipment with him, it would have been useless because of the overhanging cornices.
“In short, I had to be rescued,” he said.
While his partner went for help, Popov said, he had time to ponder his luck: “I wasn’t injured; I hadn’t fallen to the bottom; I wasn’t squashed (yet) by collapsing chunks of frozen snow; it was a warm day, and I had enough clothing and an emergency blanket to survive (maybe) one night. But above all: I HAD a partner. (It's not difficult to imagine the same scenario--without a partner.)”
A helicopter arrived after just a little over two hours. Popov had just enough room to maneuver while two of the cornices were collapsed to make the extraction possible.
Popov expressed his gratitude to the search and rescue team that came to his aid.