Miracle escape after 300ft plunge

A WOMAN has spoken of the terrifying moment when she fell 300 feet down a Himalayan mountainside. Ruth Norfolk had been hiking with her family in the Indrahara Pass in India when disaster struck and she slid over ice, rocks and boulders towards almost certain death.

A WOMAN has spoken of the terrifying moment when she fell 300 feet down a Himalayan mountainside.

Ruth Norfolk had been hiking with her family in the Indrahara Pass in India when disaster struck and she slid over ice, rocks and boulders towards almost certain death.

The former Colchester schoolgirl, her husband Adrian and their three sons, Daniel, 21, Alex, 19, and Sebastian, 15, were enjoying a four-day trek 15,000feet up in the Dhauladar mountain range.

They had just reached the summit after an arduous six-hour journey when the weather suddenly turned against them and they were forced to begin the journey back down almost immediately.


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As one of the guides was explaining to Mrs Norfolk, who went to the Gilberd School, how to anchor herself to the mountainside with an ice axe she suddenly slipped down the side of a glacier.

She said: "I was totally conscious as it happened and was screaming, there was a ridge of boulders and rocks and I thought what if I hit them? But I did, and then I do not remember what happened."

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But amazingly when her family and the guides made their way down to her side she regained consciousness and did not seem to be seriously injured.

Luckily the couple had been given a satellite phone because Mr Norfolk - a former Colchester Royal Grammar School pupil – had been asked to test it out at altitude by the Indian High Commission in New Delhi.

But the drama, which happened on June 14, did not end there because the worsening weather conditions prevented a rescue helicopters from landing on the mountain.

"We were able to contact the High Commission and they were able to mobilise the Indian Army and air force.

"I thought that they had not seen us at all and was worried about getting stuck up there for the night and was starting to think about hypothermia," the English teacher said.

But just before midnight a team of 15 local guides arrived with ropes and began a descent of more than seven hours down the mountain with Mrs Norfolk wrapped up in a sleeping bag to protect her.

The slow and painful trek back down the mountain took place lit only by torchlight but thanks to the knowledge of the guides they were able to get down to a cave where everyone was able to shelter from the worst of the weather and slept through to the morning when a rescue helicopter arrived.

"As they brought me down I would yell out when it became painful and they would slow down - I kept saying to them 'you guys are amazing', they really were life savers, I would not have survived without them doing what they did."

Tests at a military hospital revealed Mrs Norfolk had suffered two hairline fractures to her skull but no long-term injuries.

A trip back to England had already been booked for the start of July and the family have been recalling their amazing experience to both sets of parents in the Colchester area.

And yesterday, speaking from her sister's home near Framlingham, Mrs Norfolk said she felt incredibly lucky.

"I felt as though I had this new life given to me and I still feel like that, I am amazed still to be here.

"Every time I tell the story I think it is almost incredible that we were in that situation, I can still remember sliding down thinking this can not be me, it was almost like a dream.

"This has been a large bonding experience for the family, we were wondering what would happen and had to rely on each other a lot.

"The seven-and-a-half hours of the ordeal went by so quickly, it felt something like an hour," she said.

Mrs Norfolk's leg is still sore and she has been left with bruising to her lower back and she lost a bone fragment from her finger but doctors have told her she will make a full recovery.

The couple have another two years to go as part of Mr Norfolk's work at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi and Mrs Norfolk said she had not been put off more adventures in the future.

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