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Washington state climber on mend after surviving 1,200-foot fall

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Updated: 7/30/2012 1:33 pm
By Amy Moreno
NBC News

SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- A Washington state man is on the mend after falling about 1,200 feet during a climbing trip in the Cascades Mountains.

Kevin Weed was part of a group of six that was hiking to Luna Peak two weeks ago when his foot slipped in the soft snow.

Weed said tried to stop the slide with his ax, but he kept going.

“The first 800 vertical feet was about trying to stop, the last 400 feet was unconscious free-fall tumble,” Weed said.

Weed and his group were near the ridge when it happened.

“That layer of soft snow on top it just gave way under my foot,” he said.

Weed said he doesn’t remember anything after he slammed into the rocks.

Chris Robertson was the first in the group to reach Weed.

“I didn't know if he was alive at that point,” he said. “He had slid 1,200 vertical feet over rocks and soil, and when I first saw him he had these ugly wounds.”

Instead of panicking, the group relied on their wilderness training.

Another group of climbers in the area triggered an emergency beacon called a SPOT.

Weed’s group immediately started assessing his condition and planning how to help.

“I was very concerned that he had brain injury,” Robertson said.

They dug a ledge in the snow and covered Weed with sleeping bags.

“We pulled out the stove and heated up water and put it in bottles because he was really cold and in shock,” he said.

It was more than five hours before Weed was finally airlifted.

Weed was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he made steady improvements.

Less than two weeks after the fall, Weed returned to his Snohomish home.

“I was very lucky and fortunate,” he said.

“I don't have an answer or explanation; all I know is I'm here, I get to live and I get to do positive things with what I learned

Weed said he wants to climb again and still considers it a safe activity.

Next time, he'll probably wear his helmet, he said, and he plans to purchase his own emergency beacon.

Week said there is one thing he did right -- picking a group of climbing partners who came to his rescue when he needed it most.

“They all were superstars, the accident was bad, from the moment after everyone worked together,” he said.


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