A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

The ice climbing accident The ice climbing accident

January 2003 I went ice climbing in N Wales with a couple of friends (Dave and Paul). I have no recollection of this weekend nor the previous week at work because I suffered a severe head injury along with multiple fractures in a substantial fall while climbing.

As I have no recollection of this, I have pieced this account together from what I have been told:
We went to climb an unnamed Grade III water cascade in Cwm Silyn after a late night* session in the pub where I would certainly have been drinking* until late.
Dave had climbed the first pitch and we followed him up. I then lead the next pitch protecting it sparsely (after all it was 'easy'*). I arrived at the belay at the top of the second pitch and turned to call down to Dave, overbalanced/slipped or something and fell the full 50m of that pitch and a substantial part of the first pitch because my sparse protection failed (probably melted out of the ice as the air tempurature was quite warm) as it was loaded until the last one which held.

In total I had gone a distance of some 200ft, sliding down the ice, bouncing down icy ledges and over rocky steps

The injuries I sustained were: Severe head injury(sub-arachnoid haemorrhage, measured as 5 on the Glasgow Comma Scale on arrival at Bangor), ruptured spleen, 2 broken vertebra, broken pelvis, broken wrist and some minor cuts and abrasions. Minor in that they were not life threatening, but some of the cuts were quite deep, the cut above my knee was down to the bone which had been caused by a crampon.

I was evacuated by helicopter to Bangor casualty and spent a week there in intensive care having my ruptured spleen removed and my condition stabilised so that I could be transferred to Swindon where I spent another 4 weeks.

During this period I was visited by family and friends and I feel this was important for me at the time although I actually can remember none of this now.

* - indicates what I think were likely to be major contributary factors in the accident.
Up late - a lack of sleep would certainly have affected my concentration.
Drinking - not ideal for a clear head the following morning.
Approaching this as a 'easy' climb - even easy climbs are not always forgiving of mistakes.