Woman Who Survived Mountain Plunge Wakes and Apologizes to Mom

Teen Crawls to Safety After 40-Foot Mountain PlungeCourtesy Family of Brenna Fisch
Brenna Fisch, 19, Was Discovered by Grad Students 12 Hours After Fall. The University of Colorado student who fell 40-feet off a mountainside and spent the next 12 hours trying to find rescue is taking her first steps in what will likely be a long recovery.

A University of Colorado student who fell 40 feet off a mountainside and spent the next 12 hours dragging herself towards what she hoped would be rescue is taking her first steps in what will likely be a long recovery.

Brenna Fisch, 19, remains in critical condition with a severe head injury, but is talking and has already apologized to her mother for making her friends and family worry.

"At one point she figured out what happened," her mother, Diana Fisch told ABCNews.com. Frisch told her mother "I'm so sorry Mommy. Please tell everybody I'm so sorry I made them worry."

Fisch is recovering in a Boulder hospital. Diana Fisch said she has undergone surgery to repair her skull -- her forehead had caved in -- and that her eyesocket was rebuilt and an ear-reattached.

What exactly happened during Fisch's hike along a popular Colorado climbing route is still unclear, but authorities say she took the "Owl" route on Dome Rock in Boulder Canyon and fell the equivalent of more than a two story building, shortly after 6 p.m. last Thursday, Sept.9.

By the time two University of Colorado graduate students found her crumpled body more than 12 hours later, she had managed to make her way about 100 feet, looking for rescue.

"You could just see her legs coming out from behind the rock at first," said Fiona Dunne, 25, who was out for an early morning hike with friend Eric Simley. "They were bare and bloody."

Dunne and Simley, 24, looked closer and found that Fisch was still alive and conscious, but in bad shape with a gaping hole in her forehead.

"One of the first things that she said was that she was cold and did we have anything to cover her up with," Dunne said. "She said she was there since last night and she wasn't sure how long."

When Dunne and Simley found her, she was wearing just a sports bra, spandex shorts and tennis shoes and had been out all night in what Simley estimated to be temperatures in the 40s. Rescue workers, authorities said, found that she was suffering from hypothermia.

"I didn't think it was a climbing accident at first," Simley said. "It looked like she was attacked or something, just because she didn't have any climbing gear on and wasn't dressed for climbing."

Simley said Fisch was dragging herself towards a bike trail, hoping a passer-by would find her. When discovered, Fish had not made it to the bike trail.

Diana Fisch said her daughter remembers the accident "off and on." She's been out to the site of the fall and has seen her daughter's blood on the trail.

Fallen Climber Making Progress Despite Unclear Prognosis

Fisch was a regular visitor to Boulder Canyon, Diana Fisch said, but the route she normally took was closed due to the wildfires in the area. Instead, she headed to the Owl, which her mother described as "deceiving" -- looking fairly level though the climber is ascending quickly.

As best as Diana Fisch could tell, the fall involved some sliding and wasn't a complete free-fall.

Fisch took her first steps after the fall, with assistance, on Monday. Though she is conscious, she remains in almost a dream-like state.

"She's actually quite chatty," Diana Fisch said, adding that her daughter has spoken to them in French and Spanish and even tried on a British accent in the days after the accident.

Her prognosis, however, remains unclear.

"With brain injuries you have to be very careful," she said. "She's really doing very well. She's very strong."

Diana Fisch, who lives in Switzerland with her husband and their other daughter, were unaware of the severity of their daughter's accident at first. The family rushed to the United States when they realized the extent Fisch's injuries.

"I thought we were talking about a broken leg," Fisch said. "I called Brenna expecting to talk to her and I got her roommate, who was frantic."

The roommate, she said, had been panicked that Fisch never came home that night and was desperately searching for her.

"The next thing I know I was talking to a brain surgeon," she said.

Authorities said Fisch was found without any traditional climbing gear or a helmet. Diana Fisch said that her daughter was already aware that she didn't come prepared for that particular trail.

"She said 'I felt so bad," Diana Fisch said. "She said it was irresponsible."