Gurbaz Singh at his family’s home, in the Boundary Park area of Surrey. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Gurbaz Singh is thankful he’s alive to tell his story about falling down a mountain.

On Dec. 30, the Surrey teen was scaling Oregon’s Mount Hood with friends when he fell nearly 150 metres and broke his left thigh bone.

Surgically repaired the following day, the fractured femur is a reminder of the moment Gurbaz traversed an ice step that suddenly gave way, in an area known as the Pearly Gates.

“I was scouting it out and as I was going there, it was just so fast – everything broke and I was falling all of a sudden,” Gurbaz said Saturday during an interview at his family’s townhouse. “I had an axe and was checking it out, and then took a big step and that’s when I fell.”

• RELATED STORY: Surrey teen survives 500-foot fall while climbing mountain in Oregon.

He tumbled a few times before he instinctively tried to slow his fall, by creating friction with the snow below him.

“I don’t remember much, but I remember getting my hands out and managed to slow myself down, and I think that helped because I did end up stopping eventually.

“All I was thinking was, ‘I have to stop myself, I have to stop myself,’ and that’s what I learned in my training. If I kept going, eventually I would have went over a cliff, but I’m not certain about that,” he added.

“I was lucky to have survived. It could have been a lot worse.”

CLICK HERE to see rescue video.

Rescuers transported Gurbaz to a nearby lodge, and from there he was taken to hospital by ambulance.

At age 16, Gurbaz is already an experienced mountaineer who has done close to 100 peaks.

Over the past three years, his parents have done some hikes with him, but Gurbaz has progressed to join other, more experienced climbers on some adventures, including the one on Mount Hood.

“I used to be really fat and it was a weight-loss thing for me,” Gurbaz said of his hobby, “and slowly I lost the weight and got some endurance and started doing higher peaks and more technical stuff, as I got more experienced.

“It’s more mountaineering, I don’t climb with ropes that much,” he added. “I do what’s called peak bagging, so I count how many peaks I do.”

On New Year’s Day, fellow climber Mel Olson created an online fundraiser to help Gurbaz’s family pay for his hospital bills in Oregon.

“We hope he can go back to doing what he loves very soon,” Olsen posted to the gofundme.com page, which includes photos of his rescue. “I’ve created this page to assist him and his family in coping with the aftermath of this tragic accident and to get him back up on his feet as soon as possible.”

As of Monday, close to $9,000 has been raised on behalf of Rishamdeep Singh, Gurbaz’s father.

“It was a last-minute decision to go (to Mount Hood), so we tried to get insurance but couldn’t,” Gurbaz explained.

Rishamdeep said he has always encouraged his children to explore their passions and be independent.

“I know my son loves to climb and be on the mountains, so that’s what he will do,” Rishamdeep said. “We’ll take it slowly from here. This is his hobby, mountaineering and hiking, and apart from that he is also an honour-roll student in math and science. I’m very proud of him.”

A Grade 11 student at Tamanawis Secondary, Gurbaz is a member of the school kabaddi team, and was a competitive chess player as a preteen, before he got into mountaineering.

Now he’s learned to adjust to life with crutches, for the time being.

“I’m able to walk around a bit without crutches, and the pain’s gone down quite a bit, although it does hurt at night sometimes,” Gurbaz reported. “They say I might be running by spring break, so we’ll see – maybe April.”

“I might slowly ease back into it (climbing). It was a scary experience,” he continued. “From my experience I know this is an accident that could have happened to anyone,” he continued. “I don’t think I made any mistakes, I was just scouting it out and taking it slow, and it was an accident. You can be driving in your car and get into an accident, right?”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon police search for owner of lost iPhone

Concerned citizen turns phone into RCMP

British Columbians worried as end of COVID-19 rental supplement looms

Single mom struggles as supplement was her saving grace

Here are Vernon’s top 10 worst intersections for crashes

Two intersections top the list with 28 crashes apiece

Morning Start: Water can freeze and boil at the same time

Your morning start for Thursday, August 6, 2020

Water draws Vernon artists together for exhibit

Gallery Vertigo open house Saturday for Spirit of Water

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Mitchell’s Musings: Hockey’s comeback begins in earnest in August

Sports is back. Well, at least sports in a bubble is back.… Continue reading

South Okanagan sees increase in real estate activity

More single family homes sold at higher prices when compared with a year ago

Search crews en route to vehicle over Coquihalla Highway embankment

Incident on northbound side of highway near Great Bear Snowshed: SAR

Fire causes significant damage to West Kelowna home

The fire was first reported at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 6.

Face masks will be mandatory for customers at all Walmart locations

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Community Foundation of South Okanagan Similkameen presents bursaries worth more than $40,000

Nine endowment funds provided bursaries to 20 students within region

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Most Read