Santa Rosa man survives fall from Mt. Shasta

November 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A Santa Rosa man fell nearly 2,000 feet on the rugged slopes of Mt. Shasta this weekend and survived. He believes a decision he made after the fall saved his life.

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Julian Lopez, 43, said he remembers feeling the cuts, bruises, aches and pains after he tumbled nearly 2,000 feet on Mt. Shasta -- just 2,500 feet from the summit. He had stuck his axe into an icy section, but it didn't hold and he lost control.

He thought he would die when his body started rolling down the mountain.

Lopez is an experienced hiker. He had climbed Shasta in the summer of 1998.

"I'm not a professional hiker, but I like to do it," said Lopez.

This time he had invited a friend, Ismael Rios. They had stopped to take pictures of the Halloween night moon about 10 p.m., minutes before Lopez fell. He was trapped and in pain and trying to stay awake.

Lopez thought "If I want to live tonight, I don't need sleep. I need to be conscious."

It became a battle of survival.

"Even a couple of times I [felt] like I'm going to fall [asleep and lose] consciousness. I didn't want to. I couldn't. I really needed to be alive to be sure he was fine and of course to make sure he feels fine, he became my salvation too," said Lopez.

Rios went back to the camp, brought a sleeping bag, food, and water to keep Lopez warm and awake. With a dying cell phone they were able to call Lopez' wife and she called 911. The men spent the night on a rocky outcropping in freezing weather until rescue crews reached them Sunday morning. A medical helicopter took Lopez to Redding.

Lopez does a morning Santa Rosa community radio show urging people to get out, stay fit. Now Shasta stands as a new personal challenge to face him again.

"I'm going to go again. If everything is fine in June. Now, personally I need to do it," said Lopez.

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