UTAH COUNTY, Utah (KTVX) — Tim Thompson, 29, is grateful to be alive after falling 40 feet and hitting a ledge in an ice climbing incident in Utah’s Provo Canyon.
“‘Hopefully I don’t die’ was the first thought that went through my mind,” Thompson told Nexstar’s KTVX.
Thompson is an experienced climber in his seventh year of ice climbing, which made the fall even more shocking for him.
“In my mind, I probably would’ve made the same decision again any other time — which was a bit of a startling thing — thinking that you’re totally safe and solid and then having that happen,” he explained.
Thompson said he and his friend Colton decided to climb up Finger of Fate, a rock climbing route near Bridal Veil Falls, Monday morning. Thompson said he was close to the top when things suddenly took a turn.
“All the weight on that left foot, all the ice just sheared off the rock,” he recounted. He said his grip was relaxed and gave way to the fall. His first ice screw fell as well, making his fall even further down.
Thankfully, Colton was able to find more climbers nearby and call experienced climbers and Search and Rescue teams for help. One of those calls made its way to Thompson’s friend Dustin Lyons.
“I grabbed all my stuff and drove up here as quick as I could,” Lyons told KTVX. Friends, EMTs and climbing experts all came together to rescue Thompson. “Our ice climbing community here in Utah, I mean, we’ll rally for anybody.”
Thompson was stabilized quickly, protecting the two broken vertebrae in his back and his broken arm. Utah County Search and Rescue said around 50 people and multiple agencies assisted with the rescue, acting fast as temperatures rose.
“Conditions were deteriorating, the ice becomes less cohesive and rocks start to fall,” said Utah County Search and Rescue member Corey Cluff.
As of Tuesday morning, Thompson is back home with his family. He said the fall won’t keep him from ice climbing next season, but he’s urging climbers to stay safe.
“A lot of people, I think, would have something like this deter them from doing it, but it’s something I’m so passionate about and love that I think you truly can make it safe,” Thompson said.
A GoFundMe to help support Thompson, his wife, and their young child can be found here.