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A Thankful Climber Recovers At OHSU

This morning, Chris Biddle has cuts across much of his face and his arms are probably still in bandages. But the man who tumbled hundreds of feet down the side of Mount Hood Sunday says he’s only in a little bit of pain and looks worse than he feels.

He spoke publicly Monday while recovering at Oregon Health and Science University hospital.

As Rob Manning reports, Biddle says he’s mostly feeling lucky, and grateful.

Chris BiddleBiddle was descending Mount Hood early Sunday afternoon when he slipped, fell, and slid out of control. He says he’d been trained to stop himself with a pick, but it just didn't work

Chris Biddle: “When I realized, looking at the pick, that I wasn’t going to be able to stop, I was scared. You know, I knew that it was going to be… Sorry… stings a little bit….”

Biddle pauses to wipe his barely-open eye.

Chris Biddle: “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stop. As soon as I realized that, and realized how fast I was going, I knew that was not a good thing.”

Moments later, Biddle says his face struck the icy mountainside, and he blacked out.

Southwest Washington volunteer firefighter, Jeff Manor, was also on the mountain. He was descending alongside Biddle, and saw him fall.

Jeff Manor: “He slid, I’m thinking it was about 300 vertical feet down the slope. And he came to a stop, and I didn’t see him moving too much, so I kind of ran down as fast as I could, and I got to him. He was pretty disoriented. He didn’t know what day it was, or what time it was. I was suspicious of a head injury, because there was some repetitive questioning going on.”

Manor called 9-1-1 on his own cell phone. Biddle’s phone was dead.

Biddle profusely thanked Manor and an Austrian climber, Philipp Jelinek. For hours until help arrived, Jelinek sat with Biddle, while Manor continued his descent, and eventually found Search and Rescue workers.

Biddle chokes up when he thinks about how his fellow climbers helped him.

Biddle: “If it wasn’t for Phil and Jeff, I just would’ve been in a world of hurt. You know, I got to thank both of them. I … I … I owe them.”

Biddle says he’s not a very experienced climber. But he says he does intend to climb again, after he’s healed and gotten more training.

He says he’s of two minds about climbing alone. He says he likes the safety of climbing in a group, but he says
 he has an independent streak still prefers going alone.