Becka's version of accident

Wed 16 Aug 1989
Becka Lawson

Off down to do Niflheim. Decided I was feeling even fatter than usual, so would use a C-rig instead of normal Petzl stop rig, as recommended by Wookey, Jeremy etc. Unfortunately, being vastly less competent than J&W, I must have let go of the rope when descender got well jammed in part of the squeeze. Didn't jam for long. Whoosh, _horrible_ flight down, bang on big ledge, splat on smaller beneath. Managed to clip in cowtails to ladder rapidly, so I didn't _quite_ hit the bottom. Scream at Wookey "My legs all wobbly - God it's jelly" Disgusting sight as we flailed helplessly around. Got seated, and with Wookey's help, used ladder to do a leg support. Mark D did an excellent job splinting while I enjoyed myself screaming. Got up the squeeze facing wrong way with remarkably little trouble (Wooks had hammered it a bit) Mark D & Adam were incredibly strong, hauling me up as a near dead weight up the narrow rift, Wookey helping on 3rd pitch (4 people on one belay point at one point). Chris was fantastic, prussiking besides me, & keeping my leg at a 'comfy' angle, & stopping it swinging into the wall. Met Austrians top of 3rd. Was bundled into a tight coffin, man handled to an aerial runway to bottom of entrance pitch, then eventually mechanically winched to top of cave. Also winched into helicopter, man dangling by my side, which was good fun. Rescue took ~8 hours - hospital staff seemed surprised what good shape I was in - normal pulse, blood pressure, temperature etc. Probably due to the excellent rescue, v.smooth & organized + good fortune (good weather, lots of people around, I was on my way in so wasn't tired etc.) Furious with myself for making such a stupid mistake, but otherwise in good spirits. Diagnosis femur broken midway in two places, ~1" apart. Operated on that night, metal splints nailed in, to be removed in a year. Thanks v.much to everyone - CUCC, ExCS, Austrian cavers, the helicopter crew, doctors & hospital staff - not much I can say, but v.grateful & v.sorry for all trouble caused.


Rescuers' version of events / Previous Niflheim trip / Next LHR Pushing Trip / Flapjack trip (same day - supplied rescuers)

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    Becka does the squeeze the wrong way round with a broken leg
    Becka's version of accident