Climber Is 'Happy to Be Alive' After Falling Down Crevasse During Mount Rainier Descent

Graham Parrington 

One mountain climber is feeling fortunate to have survived a terrifying fall down a crevasse on Mount Rainier in Washington State.

Now, Graham Parrington is opening up about the ordeal, which happened in August, WECT News reported on Tuesday.

In an interview with Seattle station Komo News, Parrington explained that his fall occurred on the team’s descent, after he and fellow climbers Christopher Poulos and Reid Ammann had already summited and passed “all the major rock fall and major ice fall areas” and reached Ingraham Flats at 11,000 feet.

“We were feeling maybe a little bit too pleased with ourselves,” Parrington told the outlet, when “all of a sudden I fell through into a crevasse that we couldn’t see, and I smashed through some layers of snow that was melting, and then the next thing you know it,  I’m hanging in a crevasse. Dangling on a rope, yeah, 30 feet down.”

A crevasse is a deep crack in a glacier, and Mt. Ranier — which lies about three hours southeast of Seattle — is the “most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States,” according to the National Park Service. The active volcano is 14,410 feet tall.

Parrington said that he “was pretty happy once I realized I was unhurt, and not dead.” He even had a chance to snap a selfie before making the difficult climb out of the crevasse.

But that doesn’t mean it was easy to be stuck down there — the climber told CNN, “It’s like being in a ice shower down there. The glacier is melting on you.”

Graham Parrington in the crevasse
The crevasse
The crevasse

Meanwhile, Poulos and Ammann were peering in to see if their teammate was okay, WCET reported. CNN reported that another group of climbers found them and helped Parrington’s teammates adjust the rope to that he wasn’t forced to climb through rotten snow.

That was when Parrington began to start a grueling 45-minute climb up the rope to safety, he told Komo News.

Parrington explained that to self-rescue, climbers actually want to avoid going hand-over-fist up the rope — “because if you make a mistake, then you fall and you shock-load the rope.”

Instead, “you ascend the rope with friction knots or ascending devices,” he explained, saying that that’s exactly what he did.

“I got my system set up, I had loops around my feet, and clipped my backpack below me on the rope to put tension on it, and started inching my way up the rope,” he continued.

Parrington said that his extensive training and practice for emergency situations just like this one was key in his survival.

View from crevasse
Graham Parrington's fellow climbers

“Once I was okay, I knew what I needed to do because I’ve repelled into a crevasse before for training,” he said. “And I’d practiced all the stuff many times before, and I knew exactly what I needed to do. So for me it was just, happy to be alive and now I just need to execute the plan.”

Parrington said that the park ranger back at base camp was “flabbergasted” at his story of survival — and told him he was so lucky that he should “go buy a lottery ticket.”

“I still need to do that,” he said with a laugh.

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