I I made steady progress down-climbing, though my movement lacked fluency. Soon it became too precarious and I pulled a rope and climbing gear from my bag, and started abseiling. Seizures are one of the symptoms of a brain bleed, and I was lucky to be free of any as I abseiled. It was exhausting to find suitable places for the technical challenge of building abseil anchors, and at one point I found a spot to lie down and immediately fell asleep for who knows how long. At another point, I put bits of muesli bar into my mouth, only to realise I couldn't chew. Just bruising, I thought. It didn't occur to me that my jaw might be broken, which it was. It took me about eight hours and five or six abseils to get to the base of the cliff. Now on scree but without vision in my left eye, the lack of depth perception sent me tumbling over frequently, and I soon resigned myself to simply falling on my back, thinking it the least injurious way to get down. I negotiated some snow slopes and dropped down to Minaret Lake, and then into the forest, the glare of my headlamp replacing the evening hues of the sky. Darkness set in. My memory of this period is hazy. I seem to have circled around repeatedly, covering a distance in six hours that should have taken about one hour. And I lost the trail. I trudged through the bush in the vague direction that seemed right to me, and eventually I lay down on the forest floor and passed out. At one point, I distinctly remember discussing strategies to get home with a number of friends beneath the forest canopy. Either I was hallucinating, or having vivid dreams. At 5am, after a few hours of shivery sleep, I awoke to mosquitoes biting exposed skin. I sat up with anchors in my flesh. With my memory of the previous night, I had expected familiar, friendly faces to be lying next to me. But I was alone. I had no idea how far from the track I had strayed, and headed vaguely towards river sounds. To my extreme good fortune, the woods parted to reveal the trail. Within a few hours, I crossed the river and allowed myself a pinch of satisfaction, knowing that the track ahead was wider and more amicable. This section was also a popular day hike, and it wasn't long before I crossed paths with a couple who were aghast at my bloodcovered face. Somehow, I convinced them I was perfectly capable of hiking alone to the start of the track, but the next people I came across were not so easily persuaded. One guy accompanied me in the final 45 minutes of hiking. We reached the trail head roughly 24 hours after the accident, and this good soul then drove me in my van to Mammoth Hospital. Soon I was in the safe bosom of emergency care, slipping in and out of consciousness as a nurse gently dabbed the blood from my face. My hospital notes show that I told staff I didn’t think I had any broken bones, nor was I suffering any severe pain. They must have thought me mad, or at least completely incapable of self-diagnosis. "Patient covered in blood,” the hospital report states. “Essentially covered head to toe in contusions, abrasions, and lacerations … multiple internal injuries including 1-2cm head bleed … multiple facial fractures … possibly unstable." I had also lost about a third of my blood and was so dehydrated that I was in the beginnings of renal failure. Not only had I broken multiple bones - though my spinal fractures were not misaligned, meaning I could walk - but there were no facilities in Mammoth Hospital for traumatic brain injuries, and I had to be flown to Renown Medical Centre in Reno. But I was too out-of-it to assess what any of that meant. Still oblivious to the gravity of my injuries, my main priority was to send a message to the climbing partner I was meant to meet the following day and to the few people who knew about my soloing plans. I did so, switched off all devices - I incoherently thought that saving battery would be wise - and then fell asleep as I was transported to a helicopter. But my messages were typical of someone who wasn’t thinking straight. “Out of the mountains, but now in hospital” did nothing to reassure friends, particularly with no mention of which hospital. A flurry of phone calls and hospital drivebys led to the amazingly pleasant surprise of having two angelic friends, Alaina and Lauren, at my bedside when I awoke in Reno in the Intensive Care Unit. The surgeons told my friends that they may have to slice open my brain if the bleeding worsened. “You looked scarily fucked up, just covered head to toe in blood and swelling,” Alaina told me later. “You clearly had a brain injury. You kept repeating the same lines to us: ‘So nice of you to come visit’, ‘What did you climb today?’ ‘Where are you guys camping?’ ‘So nice of you to come visit’.