After plunging 40 feet into a crevasse in Montana’s Glacier National Park on Sept. 3, Ted Porter had crushed his vertebrae and severely fractured his back.
“My first thought when I fell was ‘I’m going to die,’” Porter, 36, of Los Angeles, told ABC News.
The experienced hiker was on a week-long trip with his family when he decided to tackle one of the park’s largest glaciers alone.
“As I started my descent on the glacier I fell and I knew I started sliding,” Porter explained. “I saw a huge crevasse open up in front of me. Next thing I know, I opened my eyes and I was at the bottom of the crevasse.”
After more than 30 agonizing minutes, Porter recorded what he thought was his final message to his parents on his cell phone.
“You guys, if I don’t make it out, I love you. I’m not kidding. This is not a joke,” Porter said in the haunting video saying goodbye to his family.
However, the thought of never seeing his family again suddenly motivated Porter to fight through his pain and miraculously claw his way out.
“My back was terribly broken but you know, seriously, I had people I wanted see again, for real,” an emotional Porter said. “I mean, I wanted to see my family.”
Once he made it to the surface, Porter propped himself on his axe, painfully hiking for three hours over three miles, before finding a group of campers who saved his life.
“All these people who I had never met before … It’s pretty cool when people help you like that,” he said.
Doctors say the injury to his vertebrae was two millimeters from causing partial paralysis. But after immediate spinal surgery, Porter is on his way to a full recovery and even planning on hiking again.