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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 20:27 GMT 21:27 UK
Climber's ordeal with broken leg
Bidean Nan Bian
Craig Reid fell three times down Bidean Nan Bian
Craig Reid, of Bath, in Somerset, spent two nights in the open on a Scottish mountain, using his rucksack to make a splint for a broken leg and then sliding down 2,000 feet to find rescue. He told his story exclusively to Simon Pipe of BBC News Online English Regions.

The weather was crystal clear on Thursday when Craig Reid reached the summit of Bidean Nan Bian, a 3,773-feet peak in Glencoe. He revelled in the beauty and solitude.

A short time later, the weather was closing in and he was on his way down - but not by the route he had planned.

"The ground came away from underneath my feet and I fell 30 feet down loose gravel," he said, speaking from his hospital bed.

Mr Reid, technical director of a Bristol printing supply company, found himself unhurt, but unable to climb back up to the path and a safe route down.

The sock at the top of my boot was double the size it should have been

Craig Reid
He had his compass and knew the mountains well. He was born in Falkirk and grew up in West Lothian.

He pressed on, but luck was not with him.

"After half an hour I fell again, about 30 feet, straight down to my ankle."

He had broken a bone in his right leg.

"My foot was completely uncontrollable and the sock at the top of my boot was double the size it should have been," he said.

Insecure ledge

"That fall took the top off my rucksack and I lost vital equipment.

"I lost my waterproof trousers and some food.

"When I hit the bottom I was on a very insecure ledge in a waterfall, and I had to get off it."

Glencoe map
The only escape was to make a deliberate 20-foot drop to a basin below - hoping not to land on his injured foot.

His new position was still in the gully cut by the waterfall, with water running through it.

He changed his clothes, sorted what remained of his equipment, and prepared for a night in the open.

"My compass was broken, my camera was broken, but my headlamp worked.

"The weather got worse and the waterfall increased in power and started to fill up with water.

"I moved to a ledge and built up stones to keep my foot out of the water."

Rucksack frame

On the Friday morning, he decided he had to do something about his injury.

"I could not lift my leg without it hurting badly," he said.

He hacked at his rucksack to remove the metal struts sewn into it, and used them to make a splint.

I made may way down on my bum, to about 800 feet, I guess

Craig Reid
"I was very fortunate that the rucksack had a frame that was bendable.

"It took a bit of planning to work out how to stop my foot from dropping down and twisting from side to side."

He broke the straps off the rucksack and used his knee-length gaiters to bind the splint into place.

Moving was painful, but he realised his remote location meant he could not afford to wait for rescue.

Eventually it was boredom that spurred him to go, carefully planning a traverse to the east and south.

Broken lamp

"I made may way down on my bum, to about 800 feet, I guess."

It took him seven hours.

"I was hoping to get down that night. I pulled my head lamp on to see me through the night and it was broken."

There were times when I thought I would not make it because of the conditions

Craig Reid
He now knew where he was - at Stop Corrie Nan Bian, a meeting point of two mountains - but he would be stuck there for 11 hours of darkness.

"The weather was wet, windy and about 5C," he said.

"I knew I was heading towards hypothermia."

On Saturday morning, he saw two rescue helicopters, alerted by his wife Karin when he failed to ring her.

Rescuers' praise

He struggled to a hilltop. Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team reached him at the same time as the helicopters.

Within an hour he was at Fort William, being brought out of hypothermia - and praised by his rescuers for his remarkable resourcefulness.

On Sunday he was transferred to Raigmore Hospital at Inverness, where a plate and pin were inserted into his leg.

He had survived in the open before, but never alone and injured.

Thoughts of home

"There were all sorts of emotions," he said this week.

"I was thinking of my family, and getting back to them as soon as possible."

He and Karin have a two-year-old daughter, Sophie.

"Of course there were times when I thought I would not make it because of the conditions I had to go through, but they didn't last long" he said.

"I had to get down for my family."

Click here to go to BBC Bristol Online
See also:

26 Aug 01 | Scotland
Walkers rescued in the Highlands
03 Jan 01 | Scotland
Climbers found safe
20 Nov 00 | Scotland
Winter warning as climbers rescued
23 Feb 00 | UK
Climber survives 500ft fall
19 Jan 00 | Scotland
Trip causes 1,300ft gully plunge
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