Adventurer survives mountain fall

By Dave Gooderham A HOLIDAY-of-a-lifetime turned to near tragedy for an adventurer when he lost his footing during a trek in the Bolivian Andes and plunged down a steep ravine.

By Dave Gooderham

A HOLIDAY-of-a-lifetime turned to near tragedy for an adventurer when he lost his footing during a trek in the Bolivian Andes and plunged down a steep ravine.

David Nettleton, a member of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said his life flashed before him as he plummeted down the mountainside as his walking companions looked on in horror.

Mr Nettleton, who took the trip to celebrate his 60th birthday, said he owed his life to a tree that broke his fall and brought him to a halt, battered and bruised, but remarkably not seriously hurt.


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He was with a small party of locals and a tour guide, and was walking along the Inca trails when his dream holiday turned into a nightmare.

“Our guide told us that there was a landslip ahead and the path was blocked. We were on the pre-Inca trails, so we took a detour and then got lost,” recalled Mr Nettleton.

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“We ended up trekking through a forest where there was only a small amount of path. As I attempted to climb over a log, the next thing I knew I was rolling down the hill sideways.

“I just felt fear and panic, the hill was getting steeper and I was going faster and I couldn't stop. It was quite scary.

“Then I collided with this tree. I suppose if I carried on down this ravine, I would have been killed.”

Although he suffered minor injuries to his ribs, shoulder and legs, Mr Nettleton said he was lucky to have survived last month's fall in the South American mountains, which are 3,000 metres above sea level.

“I know I am very lucky to be alive - it all happened so quickly, I was sliding down for about 15 seconds,” he added.

“I had saved for a couple of years to have this holiday to celebrate my 60th birthday.

“On these trips, you are always one slip away from oblivion, although you are normally on quite solid ground and you do having a walking stick to keep you steady. But it was not a proper track and the ground wasn't solid - it just went.”

Mr Nettleton was forced to cancel the rest of his holiday because to his injuries - but his problems did not end after his narrow escape.

He said: “At the time of the incident, we were 30km from base camp and there was no alternative, but to limp back over two days.

“Although 15km a day doesn't seem a lot, it should be remembered that a combination of steep paths and altitude sickness make it impossible to walk at more than an average of 2.4km an hour, even when fit.”

Mr Nettleton then had to endure several pain-killing injections in order to make the 24-hour plane journey home.

He said his experience had left a rather bitter taste behind and added: “This was a once-in-a-lifetime holiday and very costly and I have no plans to make the trip again.”

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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