Interview and Photos by Liam Gallagher
Met Ben Lynch for the first time out at Hood. Heard on the way up to the mountain one morning that some kid had fallen into a crevasse. Ben was that kid. Here’s his story.
How exactly did you fall into a crevasse?
Well I was hiking up to the crevasses, the crevasses on Mt. Hood with a couple friends, my friend Forrest, Brendan, Kip and, um, yeah all the Airblaster guys. We’d been talking about going up to the crevasses for a couple days. We wanted to do something rad and we spotted a crevasse that we thought we could jump over. I think Forrest had spotted it the day before and thought it’d be good to jump over the crevasse into this nice landing. It was kinda a tranny finder, but we thought it’d work.
So my friend Brendan and I rock paper scissored. He went first, landed perfect. The landing was about 20 feet of tranny and then there was about 40 yards of snow before another crevasse. Honestly, it was really scary.
So going into it you were pretty gripped?
Yeah exactly. I was all. ‘I don’t know, if I should do this.’ I should’ve just listened to my gut feeling.
But yeah, Brendan made it perfect and turned out in time so, I was like ‘Okay, way to go man,’ but he ended up stopping a couple feet away from that crevasse, so I was still pretty scared. I don’t know why, but something, maybe my testosterone, told me to hit the fucking thing.
So I hit it, launched over it, landed in the tranny, got it perfect, and was riding out hootin’ and hollerin’ and then all of the sudden, I was turning on my toe edge to get away from the next crevasse and hit a little chunder and just skipped out, and lost my edge, flipped backwards and slid on my back about ten feet to the mouth of the crevasse, then flipped down and torpedoed into it.
Yeah, I just kept tumbling, rolling and falling deeper. I kept going into these weird holes, just deeper and deeper into the heart of, well, pretty much the heart of the mountain. I hit my head and my back, so I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but I knew I fell in a crevasse, which scared the hell out of me.
How long do you think you were falling?
Oh shoot, it’s hard to say, but probably like three or four seconds.
And you were just bumping and rolling down deeper?
Exactly. And it was weird, because I ended up like 20 or 30 yards to the left of where I fell in at the top. I was just skipping sideways and down. It was so trippy man.
But, finally I stopped. My nose and my tail were wedged into the walls and I was hanging upside down looking at a pitch black hole.
When I was hanging upside down and looking at this hole I pretty much thought I was dead, definitely thought I was dead, for sure. It was crazy. I almost knew that I was dead. It was creepy. But for some reason, something told me I could make it out of there. So, I did a sit up and grabbed the edge of my snowboard and unstrapped my back foot.
And there was a little piece of ice, about four feet away that I could kinda jump up to and grab onto it and pull myself up so I could unstrap my other foot. I got my feet unstrapped and then I had to stand on this little spine that was about an inch wide and just pure ice. I was kinda slipping around, about to fall back in and there was all this water dripping on me.
So I’m standing on this thing and trying to figure out how I’m gonna get out of this place. I was kinda freaking out, but I told myself I had to make sure I was relaxed because I figured if I was freaking out there was no way I was gonna get out of this place. If I was tensed up and nervous I knew I’d end up slipping back into the hole.
Was it totally dark in there?
Where I was at this point it was kinda light, but below me it was pitch black. It was hard to tell how big of a hole it was below me, but I figure it was at least another 60 feet down below me.
So, I was standing on this spine and somehow managed to find little holds, little handholds and foot holds to climb out. And then I got to a point where I could hear and see my friends and I figured that the only way I could get out was if my friends helped me. Because as far as I could tell there was no damn way I could climb out of this thing.
What was going through your mind? How did you keep your composure?
There were so many thoughts running through my head, like what if stuff starts falling on me, like ice, what if it breaks off and knocks me out. But you just have to get those thoughts out of your mind and be like, ‘alright, there’s just one goal, one objective and that’s survival and getting out of this thing,’ and that’s pretty much all you’re thinking about. All you’re saying to yourself is, ‘what’s my next move?’
Were your buddies freaking out?
Yeah well, the only way I could make sure my friends were relaxed was if I kinda joked with them and made sure they were laughing. (Laughs) It was funny I was trying to do a Man Vs. Wild impression. It was hilarious. I just tried to get ‘em laughing so they weren’t all tense and freaking out.
How far was it from that point to the opening or the top of the crevasse?
From that point it was probably about 15 or 20 feet to where they were standing.
Yeah, so I just started looking around at my surroundings and trying to figure something out. There was this one zone that looked like a spot I could get out. I had to use my snowboard and lean it against the wall and use it like a latter. And there was a little pocket on the side of the wall that I had to climb up into.
And from there I had to climb up this wall, like a fifteen-foot wall. It looked climbable, but then when I got up to it it turned out to be like a 90-degree pitch. I just kept throwing my feet into the walls, trying to get some good foot holds and then it got to a point when I was just exhausted, totally done. I felt dehydrated, the sun was beating on me, my throat was drying up, and I started shaking, which I knew was one sign of dehydration.
And that’s when I kinda started to freak out. I was like “You guys better think of something to get me out of here, like asap,” or else I’m gonna fall back into this thing, and it’s not gonna be good, ‘cuz now I don’t have my board to wedge me and I’d just fall, and fall, and fall.
So now I’m just sitting on this wall, clinging on to it and shaking, and then luckily my friends didn’t freak out at all. Someone came up with the idea to strap their boards together, and drop ‘em down and pull me out.
And it worked. I grabbed onto the bindings and they started pulling me out, but then toward the top—this is the kinda freaky part—at the top the bindings were starting to bend and pull away from the board and it looked like the screws were just gonna pop out.
And you were just hanging?
Yeah just hanging, I had my feet against the wall trying to do whatever I could to help them out, but they were pulling with everything they had, like, Ahhhhhhh!, just screaming trying to get me out of there.
Have you ever been in a situation as scary as this?
No, never, nothing this crazy, that was definitely the most scared and closest to death I’ve ever been. I’ve had a couple nightmares about it, but I definitely think I’ll have more nightmares about it. Just that experience of hanging upside down and looking into that black hole was nasty. Yeah, it’s crazy; I was looking into the earth, pretty much looking into mouth or whatever, like the throat of the mountain.
And then when you finally got out that must have been an amazing feeling.
It was absolutely amazing. Yeah man it’s a miracle. I can’t believe it. And I’m really glad I had my friends there and that they didn’t freak out. I kind of think of it as…the mountain swallowed me, and then was like, ‘well you know it’s not your time to die,’ and then it just spit me back. It’s wild, I definitely feel like I got a lot closer to the mountain. And I just have so much more respect for it now. That’s one thing everyone needs to remember: make sure you respect the mountains that you’re riding and your surroundings and make sure you’re not being a fool.
From now on I’m gonna have way more respect for the mountains. I’ve always had a lot of respect, but it’s gonna be on a whole other level now.