Climber rescued from Smith Rock after falling 25 feet: 'I came out so very lucky'

    Rescue crews work to raise Aaron Clark to safety after he fell about 25 feet at Smith Rock State Park Wednesday. (Photo: Deschutes County Sheriff's Office)

    A climber is recovering at home in Gresham after falling 25 feet at Smith Rock.

    Aaron Clark must rely on crutches to get around these days. He has a broken rib, a damaged lung, and a few scratches, but considering the circumstances, he says this was the best-case scenario.

    "I came out so very lucky, and I don't even know how to explain it," said Clark.

    He and a friend went out to Smith Rock on Wednesday to do a climb they’ve done several times before. This time, Clark tried a traditional climb, which is something he’s says he’s still learning to do.

    At about 25 feet up the rocks, he lost his balance and fell back on his pitch that was supposed to save his fall.

    "I used the nuts that were kind probably size too small for what we were using, and so it was user error. I'm willing to admit that," said Clark. "As I passed [the bolt], I heard it pop out and the next thing popped out and the next thing I knew, I was bouncing on the rock to the ground."

    Luckily, Clark landed on a patch of dirt surrounded by boulders. He had the wind knocked out of him, but he was conscious the entire time.

    "That's the only think I could think of at that point was my wife, and I thought I was never going to see her again," said Clark.

    Because of where he was located, it took about two hours for the team to create a rope system and hoist him over the cliff. Even with years of experience and all the right gear, he says there are always risks with any climbs.

    "The outdoors is the outdoors, it's not tame. Bad things can happen even when we're well-planned, even when we think we know what we're doing. Don't get overconfident."

    Aaron says this was a learning experience and it won’t stop him from climbing again.

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