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L.A. Man Hikes 3 Miles To Get Help After Breaking Back In Montana Wilderness

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Ted Porter is lucky to be alive after breaking his back on a solo climb in Glacier National Park in Montana; the severe injury didn't stop him from hiking three miles to get help.

The Los Angeles resident had spent a lot of time hiking in the area, telling the Daily Inter Lake from the Kalispell, Montana hospital where he's recovering. "I'm not just some Angeleno who rolled up here and didn't know what's going on."

Porter, whose LinkedIn profile says he is a voiceover actor, had spent a week hiking in the park with his parents, then set out on a solo hike to Jackson Glacier and Mount Jackson on the morning of September 3. All was going well, until late that afternoon, when he slipped and found himself tumbling out of control.

I just started careening down the glacier and I can't stop. I'm sliding and I'm trying to boot ski as much as possible. ... I couldn't stop sliding and this big crevasse just [approached] right in front of me and there was nothing I could do to stop myself. I just dropped right into the crevasse. From what I remember, it was violent and fast. I hit the front side, the far wall, and bounced back and I must have just dropped straight down, and I ended up on my butt and my legs with a broken back. I just knew something was severely wrong. The pain was unbelievable.

Porter estimates he fell about 40 into the icy crevasse, which he then had to scale with a broken back. Luckily, he had his ice ax and crampons with him.
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"I had everything in my backpack I needed," he said. "I thought if I don't get out of here now, I'm not going to get out alive."

At one point, Porter used his cellphone to make a 35-second goodbye video, telling his parents, who had already returned home to Kansas City, "If I don't see you again, I want you to know I love you very much." (He apparently did not have reception on his cell to get help.)

Despite the pain, he was able to make it out of the crevasse and walk three miles before spotting other hikers, who helped him survive the night. One woman held his hand all night, he says. Three of the campers hiked out in the morning and alerted a ranger, who called for help. He was helicoptered out by 10 a.m.

Porter said one lumbar vertebra in his lower back was "totally crushed" and another was damaged. He's had three surgeries, and, according to the account on the Give Forward site set up to help fund his medical bills, is learning to walk again.

"The injuries were extremely severe. The doctors and nurses said just how lucky I am to be alive," Porter said from his hospital bed. "If I would have had any more injuries, that would have been it for me."

He said that one of the doctors told him the injury was "only a couple of millimeters" from complete paralysis.

"It's a miracle he's alive," his mother, Cindy Porter told the Montana newspaper. "If he had broken his legs or his arms, he wouldn't have been able to climb out, or if he had been knocked unconscious."

Porter will likely be released at the end of the week, although he'll need rehab.

A note from a Jessica Reynolds on the Give Forward site says, "Ted is such a miracle case, the whole hospital and town here are astonished with what he's survived—and keeps on surviving!

His pain is getting a little more tolerant but of course there are so many difficult factors he's adjusting to in this recovery. It's hard to grasp not being able to just stand up, or get out of bed, or brush your teeth on your own. But the best thing is, he will in time, and for that he is beyond thankful."