‘Hopefully I don’t die’: Ice climber recalls 40-foot fall in Utah

(SALT LAKE CITY) — Nursing a broken arm, two cracked vertebrae and wearing a neck brace, ice climber Tim Thompson recounted surviving a 40-foot fall from a towering outcropping in Utah’s Provo Canyon, saying thoughts of his demise raced through his mind during the horrifying plunge.

One day after cheating death, the 29-year-old Thompson sat at his kitchen table thankful to be alive.

“‘Hopefully I don’t die’ was the first thought that went through my mind,” Thompson told ABC affiliate station KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City.

Thompson, a married father of a young child, said he and a friend were climbing the icy “Finger of Fate” outcropping near Bridal Veil Falls northeast of Provo on Monday morning when the episode unfolded.

He said he was near the top when his footing suddenly gave way and the ice screw anchoring him on the steep icy surface broke loose, making the fall even more perilous.

“All the weight on that left foot, all the ice just sheared off the rock,” said Thompson, who has been ice climbing for seven years. “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.”

Thompson said he fell onto a snowy ledge, likely saving his life.

His climbing buddy quickly summoned climbers nearby and called the Utah County Search and Rescue team for help. About 50 people in all responded to rescue Thompson.

He was flown safety down the mountain by a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter crew and taken to Utah Valley Hospital in Provo for treatment.

Corey Cluff, a member of Utah County Search and Rescue, said “conditions in the area were deteriorating” due to rising temperatures, making the ice less cohesive and rocks unstable and threatening to fall.

Despite the near-death experience, Thompson said he is not about to give up ice climbing.

“A lot of people, I think, would have something like this deter them from doing it,” Thompson said. “But it’s something I’m so passionate about and love that I think you truly can make it safe.”

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