Monday, 17 December 2018
Beautiful blue skies are greeting Esther and me as we hike towards Sharp Peak in Sai Kung Country Park (Hong Kong). I have been fascinated by the peaks steep, rocky West Cliff since years and over the last year we have made multiple attempts to set up a direct route through these rock-face.
Today is the day to make it happen – to get at least one project finalized in an otherwise rather unsuccessful year: With heavy back-bags (stuff packed for a bivy out on the cliffs) we approach the peak. A small canyon, heavily overgrown with thorn bushes, is our access path. Its probably as “far away” as one can get in the ever busy Hong Kong. Its steep , its lonely and we are enjoying the late autumn day.
Soon the rock is too steep to scramble, we rope up and start to climb. I take the lead. Its not too difficult but the higher I get the more dubious the rock quality seems to be. The rock is also very difficult to protect, thanks to an unusual scarcity of trees and cracks. I slowly move higher, careful not trigger any rockfall. With every step my risk increases as I move away from my last protection – but there is just nothing to place a piece. I realize its getting quite run out.
And then it happens – I make a move, a climbing move I have probably done hundreds of time before. But this time the notch I hold onto crumbles under my finger. The rock breaks loose and I suddenly feel the full unrelenting force of gravity pulling me down. Frantically I try to hold on to something, a little branch, it breaks, my hand just slides of the rock… its all so fast, I feel the free fall, think “This is not good!” then the impact, my feet first, I flip over, my shoulder, my hip.. it seems an eternity until I feel the tension of the rope which is arresting my fall…. I come to a sudden standstill and look up, I guess almost twenty meters below I was just a second earlier.
Esther is clearly shocked and so am I – I am bleeding everywhere and worst of all I see my ankle is in bad shape. Its swelling up big time and any movement of my body anyway causes huge pain.
Looking at our situation we conclude there is no chance we can get out of here. Esther calls the helicopter. A dramatic rescue mission endures – six helicopter flights, more than twenty personal of Team HART – the high angle rescue team of the Hong Kong Fire Patrol make sure that I get safely out of here… it seems to be an eternity, at the same time its all going really fast.
In the middle of the night, under a star filled sky, both of us get airlifted and nine hours after the accident I am finally in hospital. The doctors can barely grasp my luck grasp given the severity of fall.
The lucky diagnosis: “Only” a fracture (albeit a difficult) one of my right foot. I guess given the length of the fall I should be happy. It could have been way worse…
Six days in hospital, a big operation (including insertion of two screws) and several weeks of living the role of a “Couch Adventurer”, I can conclude:
– Netflix just hasn’t enough good series.
– Its a horrible feeling to be useless, being even unable to carry a cup of tea from the kitchen to the bed.
– That the most important is to have an amazing family around. Thank you for all your support!
Its gonna take a long time, but rest assured “I will be back!”