by STACEY HEANEY
Ed at the
summit of Aconcagua.
The spot where Ed had his horror fall
DRUMBEG man Ed Smith got safely home this week after
surviving a 100 foot horror fall from the summit of a mountain
in the Andes.
Ed, 56, is still recovering after the incident which left him
unconscious after falling near the top of the 23,000 foot high
peak in Argentina.
The former journalist sustained head injuries in the fall on
the mountain which had claimed the life of a climber just the
Ed had travelled td the Andes to take on the challenge of one
of the world's highest mountain ranges with a group of fellow
climbing enthusiasts and had reached the top when the expedition
took a turn for the worse. Ed explained, "I had been out there
nearly three weeks to acclimatise and we then tackled the
mountain, Aconcaga, which is on the Argentine/Chilean border,
the weekend before last. "The Andes are regarded of one of the
medium mountains in the world so it is quite an undertaking. I
have an interest in remote places but this was a step up from
what I had tried before," he added.
Ed had travelled to the region with Saintfield man Robbie
Wright in a multi-national group. He continued, "We were with
local guides, which was lucky as they were very good. Their
local knowledge was fantastic. One of the guides, Papi, had been
up there 20 times so that knowledge helped a lot in the
After a gruelling seven and a half hour climb, Ed was at the
summit of Aconcaga but as the group was beginning their descent
he found himself in serious trouble.
Ed Smith now back home after suffering
head injuries in a fall while descending from a peak in
the Andes. US0708-127A0
"We were on the canaleta, a corridor of rock and ice off the
summit, when my crampons caught on something and I somersaulted
down the mountain," he recalled. "I think I fell 100 foot down a
slope. I knocked myself out and I was out for about a minute,
but luckily the guides were down very quickly.
"I knew instinctively I was ok but there was a lot of blood
due to the head trauma so I was tied on a rope to one of the
guides who walked me down."
The group's ordeal was far from over however, as a heavy
snowfall made their journey down more treacherous.
He explained, "We were aiming for Camp Colera, which is the
highest camp on the mountain at 20,000 foot. It took us five
hours to get there as it was snowing quite heavy, but I was
pleased to see it. I kept having visions of it through the snow
and then I'd realise it was just a rock formation but we would
rest and the guides gave me water and something to keep my
energy up as I was very tired. "The guides were very worried as
a 30-year-old climber with the group before us had died of
accute mountain sickness. He had gone to sleep at the camp and
his girlfriend found him dead the next morning. Robbie sat with
me all night to keep an eye on me."
The next day Ed was able to be properly assessed as he
arrived at base camp, where his wounds were cleaned.
He said, "I looked a lot worse than I was, they cleaned a lot
of blood away and I only needed one stitch but because of the
head trauma they were still anxious so I got a helicopter out to
Mendoza. which is the nearest big town. I was in hospital on
Monday where I had a precautionary CT scan and saw a
"I've been left with a little bit of vertigo but they expect
it to go away."
Ed's wife Lorna and daughters Elinor and Kate were left with
an anxious wait at home.
"The internet connection wasn't working so they were quite
worried not knowing what was going on. This is a very selfish
pursuit, if things go wrong it affects my family so perhaps I
will take on some other challenge in the future.
"Right now, I am just glad to get home."