UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – 29-year-old Tim Thompson is grateful to be alive after falling 40 feet and hitting a ledge in an ice climbing incident on Monday, Dec. 26.

“‘Hopefully I don’t die’ was the first thought that went through my mind,” Tim said.

Tim is an experienced climber, as this is his seventh year ice climbing, which made the fall even more shocking for him. 

“In my mind, I probably would’ve made the same decision again any other time, which was a bit of a startling thing — thinking that you’re totally safe and solid and then having that happen,” Tim said. 

He and his friend Colton decided to climb up “Finger of Fate” near Bridal Veil Falls Monday morning. Tim said he was close to the top when things suddenly took a turn. 

“All the weight on that left foot, all the ice just sheared off the rock,” Tim said. He said his grip was relaxed and gave way to the fall. His first ice screw fell as well, making the drop even higher.

Thankfully, Colton was able to find more climbers nearby, as well as call experienced climbers and Search and Rescue teams for help. One of those calls made its way to Tim’s friend Dustin Lyons. 

“I grabbed all my stuff and drove up here as quick as I could,” Dustin said. Friends, EMTs and climbing experts all came together to rescue Tim. “Our ice climbing community here in Utah, I mean, we’ll rally for anybody,” Dustin said. 

Thompson was stabilized early on, protecting the two broken vertabrae in his back and his broken arm. Utah County Search and Rescue said around 50 people and multiple agencies assisted with the rescue, acting fast as temperatures rose. 

“Conditions were deteriorating, the ice becomes less cohesive and rocks start to fall,” Utah County Search and Rescue member Corey Cluff said. 

Tuesday morning, Tim is home with his family. He said the fall won’t keep him from ice climbing next season, but he’s urging climbers to stay safe. 

“A lot of people, I think, would have something like this deter them from doing it, but it’s something I’m so passionate about and love that I think you truly can make it safe,” Tim said. 

A GoFundMe for Tim can be found here.