Yosemite Climber's Dramatic Rescue Caught On Camera

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email

CBS News Web Copy

A California man is recovering from a serious rock climbing accident. He broke his back after falling as far as 30 feet at Yosemite National Park on Sunday.

Blake Parkinson, 26, says he doesn't remember what went wrong. Luckily, the recreational climber was wearing a helmet when he fell on the most challenging section of his climb.
When rescuers spotted Parkinson, he had fallen onto the narrow ledge of this remote cliff.

"I was climbing into the most difficult part of the second pitch," he said. "And [I] went to pull a move and I didn't make it and I fell."

Parkinson and his friend, Ben Tomsky, were climbing up Higher Cathedral Spire, a 600-foot tall peak located in the heart of California's Yosemite National Park.

Parkinson - an experienced climber -- broke his back in the fall.

"He was in pretty bad shape," said Tomsky. "There wasn't a lot of relief. I mean, I was happy to see he was alive. But he was clearly very, very badly injured."

Tomsky called 911 and a California Highway Patrol helicopter rushed to the scene and carefully lowered a Yosemite Search and Rescue team on to the ledge.

With its chopper blades dangerously close to the rock face, pilots steadied the helicopter and hoisted Parkinson to safety.

"Yosemite Search and Rescue is the best in the world at what they do," said Parkinson. "I have the utmost respect for their skills and their training and I'm just extremely grateful to have them help me out."

More than 100 climbing accidents occur in Yosemite each year. Just last week, rescuers evacuated a woman who injured her back while hiking.

Parkinson suffered a fractured spine, but he can move his arms and legs so paralysis isn't an issue.

He has weeks of intensive therapy ahead of him.

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