Climber makes escape after fall from cliff | SummitDaily.com
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Climber makes escape after fall from cliff

Craig Smith is shown at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo., Saturday, May 20, 2006. Smith lost his grip on a 2,000-foot cliff in Black Canyon near Montrose, Colo., Thursday, breaking his leg in two places while suspended 900 feet up. He and his cousin "self-rescued," themselves by rappelling down one cliff and crawling out of the canyon with no water. (AP Photo, The Gazette, Kevin Kreck)
AP | THE GAZETTE

COLORADO SPRINGS – Deep in the recesses of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, in a chasm near Montrose, nobody can hear you scream.”Visitors are expected to find their own way,” warns the National Park Service guide to the backcountry, “and be prepared for self-rescue.”

When 21-year-old Craig Smith lost his grip on a 2,000-foot cliff in the canyon Thursday, breaking his leg in two places while suspended 900 feet up, he knew nobody was coming.”It’s hard to describe just how alone you are. You’re on your own. You’re just down in this deep hole, and nobody’s going to hear you,” said Smith, a University of Northern Colorado music student from Colorado Springs.

So he and his cousin “self-rescued,” a 17-hour ordeal that involved rappelling down one cliff and crawling out of the canyon with no water. They survived – and learned that you never know what you’re capable of until you have no choice but to try.”Several times I wanted to give up, but there was no option. I just had to get out,” he said.

Smith and his cousin, Ken Sherbenou, 26, of Denver, started their climb Wednesday. Both are experienced climbers – Smith’s mother proudly displays pictures of him scaling Garden of the Gods rocks at age 5. They were training to climb El Capitan, a formidable rock in Yosemite National Park, this summer.The trip turned harrowing around noon on the second day, when Smith stopped climbing long enough to lose his strength and his grip, falling 20 feet. He would have fallen a lot farther if his equipment hadn’t held.


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