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Man shares harrowing story of survival after falling down mountainside headfirst and nearly going off cliff

IDAHO FALLS — Matt Berry has climbed mountains all over the world, so when he decided to hike the 18-mile Grand Traverse in Grand Teton National Park last August, he came prepared.
“This was actually something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’ve done the entire traverse in a couple sections, but the goal for this particular trip was to do it in one push in a 24-hour period,” Berry tells
The 35-year-old Utahn set off with his equipment and climbing partner at 4:30 a.m. As the sun rose, they made their way 6,000 feet up the mountain. Five hours in, they decided to take a break.

Matt Berry is an avid hiked who has climbed mountains all over the world. | Courtesy Matt Berry
“I’m not even exactly sure how it happened, but as I was scrambling down an easy section to get to our resting location, I slipped…like the equivalent of slipping on a patch of ice on a sidewalk just walking down the street,” Berry says.
Berry plunged headfirst down the mountain smashing into rocks and bouncing off ice. He tried to stop himself but couldn’t and knew he was headed straight toward a ledge with a massive drop.
“At the base, there was about a 2,500-foot cliff that feeds down into Cascade Canyon. I stopped about 10 to 15 feet shy of the beginning of that cliff line,” Berry recalls.
The experienced hiker had fallen around 600 feet in about 15 seconds, and his body was beaten, bruised, and he could barely move. He yelled to his climbing partner that he was alive, and his friend called 911.
“I was super dehydrated from the adrenaline dump. I got out my medical kit and start tending to my wounds to stop a bunch of my major bleeds,” Berry says.
Lying feet away from a cliff, unable to walk or crawl, Berry went into meditative breathing as he waited for help to arrive. Snow and ice above him began melting as the weather warmed up, and Berry says at one point, two microwave-sized pieces of granite broke off from about 100 feet above him. They came crashing down and nearly hit him.
After 2.5 hours, the Teton County Search and Rescue team arrived. Berry was flown off the mountain and taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, where two surgical teams were waiting in the trauma center.

Matt Berry was admitted to EIRMC with extensive injuries. | Courtesy Matt Berry

Matt Berry was admitted to EIRMC with extensive injuries. | Courtesy Matt Berry
“I had a pretty long list of injuries,” Berry says. “I had an open compound hip fracture, I lacerated my liver, I had degloved (the top layers of skin and tissue were torn away from underlying muscle) my arm, I had plenty of pretty deep lacerations on my abdomen area, I had a puncture wound that I could see my quad muscle, and I had lacerated my left ankle open.”
Derrick Northrup was Berry’s physical therapist in the EIRMC rehab unit. Every day for three hours, Northrup worked to help Berry get better.
“He was in pretty rough shape when he came in. He could barely even stand up out of bed,” Northrup says. “We worked on lots of little things to get his legs and arms moving and get his strength going. We have a couple of machines that he could get on to slowly get his range of movement back.”

Physical therapist Derrick Northrup worked with Matt Berry at EIRMC. | Courtesy Matt Berry
Berry had to relearn how to walk and use stairs. On his first day in the rehab unit, the avid climber couldn’t even go up one step on a staircase. But by his sixth day, he not only went down six flights of stairs but made his way back up to the top – twice.
“He did two consecutive 120 stairs back up. I haven’t had patients do that before,” Northrup says.
After hours of physical therapy, patience and support from his girlfriend and family, Berry was released from the hospital after two weeks. There’s been some aches and pains over the past year but he’s back to hiking and planning more adventures.

Matt Berry and Derrick Northrup pose after Berry was released from EIRMC. | Courtesy Matt Berry
“It hasn’t really scared me away from climbing or going back into the mountains. In fact, in about a month, I’m heading out to Greece to do some climbing,” Berry says.
Berry knows when he fell down the mountain last August, things could have ended differently. He is thankful to be alive and to all those who helped.
“I’m just extremely grateful for my girlfriend, my mom, my climbing partner, the rescuers and all the staff EIRMC for putting me together and keeping me psyched and motivated. It’s awesome,” he says.

The post Man shares harrowing story of survival after falling down mountainside headfirst and nearly going off cliff appeared first on East Idaho News.

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