… to Survive Five Nights on Mount Adams with a Busted Ankle.
as told to Christian DeBenedetti
TWO YEARS AGO this October, Derek Mamoyac, of Philomath, shattered his right ankle in a fall while day-hiking on Mount Adams. With no cell service, shelter, food, or water, Mamoyac, then 27, couldn’t wait for rescue. He had to save himself. Here’s how he did it.
ACCEPT THE REALITY After the fall, I knew I was in deep doo-doo. My right ankle was like a wet noodle hanging at the joint. I was on a steep glacier and I wanted to get to cover, so I crawled, dragging myself slowly off the slope. My next strategy was to find a trail.
BOOST YOUR OWN MORALE A search helicopter flew right over me the second night. I thought, “It sees me, I’m going to get out!” But it didn’t. I had to get back in He-Man mode: set a goal, keep moving, keep warm.
EAT … ANYTHING I started turning over rocks and logs, looking for creepy-crawlies: centipedes, spiders, ants, grubs. I’d just chew a bit and swallow it. By day five, I hadn’t had fluids in three days, so I had to drink my own urine. It didn’t go down like apple juice, but that was my way of asserting that I was willing to do anything.
ENVISION SURVIVAL I’d think about my future. I’d have dreams of friends and family, and I imagined a pizza delivery guy showing up. I thought about hiking around the mountain when I was healthy. You have to keep believing you’re going to get out.
BE VOCAL The last day, I got to a stream. I meditated and tried to get myself together. Then I heard someone yell my name. I yelled back. That ghost voice got closer and closer. It was a searcher. He said some of my relatives were out there. I thought, “Wow, all these people thought I was dead, but I’m alive!” It was like winning the lottery—the best feeling ever.