Hiker survives 60-foot fall off cliff at Devil's Bedstead

Hiker survives fall at Devil's Bedstead.

BOISE - Labor Day morning, Avery Shawler - a conservation planner - set out for a solo hike of Devil's Bedstead East near Sun Valley.

It was a routine outing that took a horrific turn.

"I just couldn't get down," she said. "It got really icy, the sun shifted."

Four hours went by and by 1 that afternoon, Avery knew she was stuck and began to weigh her options.

"At that point I had tried to use my emergency beacon, it's a satellite communicator and it has a SOS button," said Avery. "I realized I hadn't fully charged it. I tried turning it on, it turned on for two seconds, I pressed SOS for two seconds and then it shut down. I knew it wasn't an option."

With no idea if her SOS had been received, Avery went with her plan B.

"I decided to try and go up onto the ridge and traverse the ridge and get to the saddle, which I knew was a safer way to get down," said Avery.

Although Avery didn't have cell service, she dialed 911 about 20 times in hopes of getting through.

"I knew that if I didn't get out of there that I would be spending the night there and there's a likelihood that I would die of exposure out there," said Avery.

That's when thought of her potential death started to creep in.

"I definitely had a couple hours where I got to think about death. I almost started leaving video messages for friends and family."

Then, Avery's situation took  a turn for the worse. She slipped and fell around 60 feet off of a cliff.

"I remember coming to and just kind of looking back and seeing a bit of a blood trail from where I fell," said Avery. "I knew that I had to stop the bleeding because I had some big lacerations on my knee and on my thigh."

She suffered a fractured radius, three broken ribs, a broken eye socket, a serious head injury, and had to get several stitches. She says these injuries are nothing compared to what could have happened.

"I'm lucky I stopped where I stopped because I could've kept rolling and there definitely would've been a fatal drop," said Avery.

At the bottom of her fall, Avery says a miracle happened. She got one bar of cell service.

"I wasn't quite sure if I had gotten through or if I had imagined it and if someone was actually coming to help me," said Avery. "It was a very desperate, lonely feeling and it's hard to think about it again." 

Then, the sound of a helicopter. Two Bear Air is a rescue service based out of Montana that happened to be 60 miles away on another rescue mission when they received the call.

"As soon as I had a visual on it, I started crying - it was really emotional that feeling that I know I'm going to make it," said Avery. "I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for those guys."

Avery says survival skills helped save her life. She had a first-aid kit, emergency blankets, layers of clothing, and an emergency beacon. She says anyone who is planning a hike, especially if they're alone, should plan for the unexpected. 

Avery was discharged from Saint Alphonsus in Boise and has been cleared to return home to Ketchum, where she will begin physical therapy. 

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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