NC rock climber recovering from 40-foot fall

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Jackson Depew

BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WHNS) — Jackson Depew, an experienced rock climber, is still recovering after falling 40 feet on March 10 in the Linville Gorge.

Depew said he had just moved to western North Carolina a few days earlier and hadn’t been climbing in six months.

“I was really excited to get back on the rock. It started you know just as a normal climbing day,” said Depew.

He had no idea though he would be at the center of a rescue operation involving a Black Hawk helicopter.

“The last thing I remember was onto this flake with my left hand, looking at it trying to figure out where the climb was going,” said DePew. “And I’m pretty sure, I don’t remember much but I’m pretty sure that the flake broke off, and then I fell off right, and that’s kind of the last thing I remember before I woke up.”

DePew said he woke up to a man yelling at him. It just happened to be a rock climber who witnessed DePew’s fall and rushed to him.

“He was like hey man you just took a huge fall like don’t move, I was like oh,” said Depew.

It was about an hour and a half later search and rescue teams showed up. They used a Black Hawk helicopter to rescue DePew off the cliff ledge.

DePew said he plans to climb again as soon as he’s cleared from the doctor. He had a couple fractures around his pelvis, fractured ribs, he broke his tail bone and suffered a concussion.

“It’ll be tough mentally you know, that’s a challenge that everybody who takes you know a bad fall or something like that faces,” DePew explained.

He said he plans to return to the gorge climb and doesn’t want his fall to shed a negative light on rock climbing. He said because he and his climbing partner followed all safety measures, he is here today to tell his story.