'Lucky to be alive': Cairngorms plunge survivor Ollie Daniel speaks of ordeal
- 9 January 2014
- From the section NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland
A hillwalker who survived after plunging about 800ft from a cliff edge in the Cairngorms has told BBC Scotland he feels lucky to be alive.
Ollie Daniel, 25, fell through snow while walking in the area of Coire Sputan Dearg on Sunday.
A major rescue operation saw him airlifted to safety. His injuries included nine broken ribs.
Mr Daniel, of Cambridge, thanked the rescue teams - and vowed to return to the mountains.
He had been with two other men - including his father.
Speaking to BBC Scotland at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Mr Daniel said: "We were navigating in near zero visibility in a white-out.
"As I was navigating I put my foot out and onto nothing, and fell down about 800ft of sheer cliff.
"You figure you have had it."
He described sections of sliding, as well as free-falling.
"There was one really big hit, that seems to have done most of the damage," he said.
"It felt like I was falling for quite a long time before it stopped."
Mr Daniel then found a more sheltered spot and took cover in his sleeping bag as he waited for help.
He said about two hours later he heard an RAF helicopter, which was a "big relief", but also "quite demoralising" when he realised it was in the wrong area.
He was later found by mountain rescuers.
Mr Daniel said he felt "lucky" for two reasons.
He said: "You could not reasonably expect to fall down that cliff and survive, then mountain rescue to find me and rescue me. It's credit to them."
Asked if he planned to return to the mountains, he confirmed: "The whole point of the trip was preparation for a bigger trip."
'Let out a shout'
Mr Daniel suffered nine broken ribs, a broken wrist, and liver and lung injuries, as well as cuts and bruises.
He added: "I have felt better certainly - but luckily I do not feel worse."
His father James Daniel recalled: "We were walking in a three, Ollie was at the front and I was at the back.
"He put his foot down, let out a shout, and disappeared.
"We got as close as we dared. We started to think 'Oh no, something serious has happened here'."
They managed to raise the alarm.
"I did not know if he was alive," he said.
He added that his son's rescuers, including Braemar Mountain Rescue Team, were "brilliant".