Sunday, 09. March 2014 - 03:03
21. 08. 12. - 13:00
The 70-year-old mountain climber trapped for six days inside a crevasse in an Alpine glacier has given his first interview in which he told how he landed on a narrow ice - and every day had to struggle to stay awake in case he fell further into the glacier.
He had survived eating one square of chocolate every day and drinking ice and shouting for help until he lost his voice and needed to rest it.
The German climber Manfred Walter from Schmidmühlen in Bavaria had plunged through a 20 metre crack in the ice during a solo climb up Schrankogel, a mountain in the Stubai Alps in Austria.
He said: "The ice shelf I was trapped on was just 40 cm wide each way, and each side it plunged down too far to see."
With a broken hip he was unable to climb out himself, and by the time he was freed six days and six nights had suffered from frostbite in his toes, as well as kidney problems from drinking the water from the glacier.
"I kept thinking that if I fell I would fall so far that nobody would ever find me, at least not until the glacier melted. I didn't want to end up like Otzi and be found in 1,000 years(The prehistoric ice mummy found in the Alps).
"I remember thinking this was it when I tipped into the hole as the ice gave way and it was dark. Then I managed to struggle onto the shelf that became my seat for the week. I used my walking stick to give me extra support.
"I lost my hat, so I used my underpants to keep my head warm.
"I have to say though I was terrified, I was constantly thinking of ways to stay awake and was terrified if I fell asleep I'd fall down the hole and that would be the end.
"The thirst was unbearable, the snow was too cold too eat, so I had to try and melt water, but my mouth was too dry to eat. I even had bread with me that I still had in hospital, but I couldn't eat it as my mouth was too dry. At one time I dreamt of cherries in a tin, and I even toyed with the idea of jumping and putting an end to it all -everything goes through your head.
"It was also hard to breath and I was worrying about hypothermia - thoughts of God and my family kept me going. When I heard a voice saying "We will get help" it was a fantastic feeling."
Medic Volker Wenzel - treating the veteran mountaineer for hypothermia in hospital: "He had a lot of training behind him and was very well equipped."
"He had a bar of chocolate in his backpack which he rationed to one square a day and stayed awake until he was rescued. He knew that if he went to sleep he might never wake up," he added.
He is now out of the intensive care ward but is likely to be kept in hospital for some weeks - saying he planned to celebrate by going for a walk in the mountains."
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