California News

Apr 23, 2014 1:13 PM by NBC News

Rock climber recovering after 30-foot fall that fractured his spine

Watch video of the rescue here.

(KCRA) A rock climber is expected to recover after falling 30 feet from a granite wall, landing on a ledge 1,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor.

Blake Parkinson of Palo Alto, California is 26.

A California Highway Patrol rescue crew, along with national park officials, had to hoist him off the ledge at Yosemite National Park on Sunday after his fall.

Doctors are treating him for spinal fractures.

"I hit my back on a boulder that was protruding off of a ledge," he said from his hospital bed. "It had been a climb that I had wanted to do for quite a while, but I'll have to wait to finish it up another time, I guess."

Parkinson's climbing partner, Ben Tomsky, knew immediately there was a problem.

"Normally, when a climber falls, right away they would say, 'I'm OK. I'm getting back on it,'" Tomsky said. "And you would feel something moving from the rope. Since I wasn't getting anything from the rope and he was not responsive, it seemed like something had gone quite wrong."

At the time, the two were attempting to scale a spot known as Higher Cathedral Spire.

CHP Officer and paramedic Andrea Brown helped pull Parkinson into the chopper.

"He was more responsive than I had expected," Brown said. "He gave me a good thumbs up and he thanked me and the ground crews for what we had done. He was in pretty good spirits for what he had been through."

It was a sign of optimism and appreciation for the risky rescue that will allow Parkinson to climb again.

"I am just extremely grateful," Parkinson said.

Parkinson, a Stanford graduate, now works in the university's admissions department. He was the second person to be rescued from the Yosemite Valley in the past week.

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