Skip to main content

U.S. climber survives 70-foot fall in Nepal: 'Any mistake ... I was going to die'

By Dana Ford, CNN
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • John All was conducting climate research on Mount Himlung in the Himalayas
  • He fell into a deep crevasse and managed to climb out
  • "It's amazing how broken a body can be and still be functioning," All tells HLN

(CNN) -- A Western Kentucky University professor is "broken" but alive after surviving a 70-foot fall into a crevasse while climbing in Nepal.

John All said he managed to make it out and to his tent, where he was picked up by a helicopter.

"It probably took me four or five hours to climb out. I kept moving sideways, slightly up, sideways, slightly up, until I found an area where there was enough hard snow that I could get an ax in and pull myself up and over," he told HLN's "RightThisMinute" on Thursday.

Climber survives 70-foot fall in Nepal

"I knew that if I fell at any time in that entire four or five hours, I, of course, was going to fall all the way to the bottom of the crevasse. Any mistake, or any sort of rest or anything, I was going to die."

All fell into the crevasse Monday while conducting climate research on Mount Himlung in the Himalayas. He shot a short video immediately after the fall.

In it, All's voice rises and falls with pain as drops of his blood speckle the white snow. He scans to the top of the crevasse, a narrow hole of light, and to its bottom, a seemingly bottomless pit. A ledge had stopped his fall.

"Biggest problem was, because my ribs were so broken in my right side, I had to do everything with just my right foot, but not the upper part of my right leg, and my left leg, and then my left arm," he said.

After he managed to make his way out of the crevasse, All said he rolled as much as he walked back to the tent.

There, he called for a helicopter, which arrived within 16 to 18 hours, said All, who was alone when he fell.

"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," he said.

According to the crisis response firm that rescued All, he was flown to Kathmandu and transferred to a hospital there. Global Rescue said it was alerted to his situation via satellite text message relayed over the Internet.

Asked by HLN how he is feeling, All replied "I am broken."

Happily, he added: "It's amazing how broken a body can be and still be functioning."

CNN's Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:01 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The U.S. has promised to supply and train "acceptable" rebels in Syria to counter ISIS. But who are they and are can the strategy work?
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Do the Chinese really like to mix their Bordeaux with Coca-Cola?
updated 5:38 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Al Qaeda's new Syrian branch, Khorasan, is seeking new ways to attack America and Europe, with a top U.S. intelligence official saying it has "aspirations for attacks on the homeland."
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
updated 2:55 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Liverpool's Italian forward Mario Balotelli reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Liverpool and Ludogorets Razgrad at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool on September 16, 2014.
British police launched an investigation into abusive tweets sent to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.
updated 7:44 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
A woman who was texting her husband before he was killed reflects on the Westgate attack.
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The real secret to a faster commute has been with us all along -- the bus.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
13 brands retained their Top 20 status from last year, according to an annual survey.
updated 11:49 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Think your new tattoo is cool? Look at how our ancestors did it and think again.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT