On the night of April 9, 1997, Warren Macdonald took his final step as a "complete" human being. A fit and experienced hiker, Macdonald had set out with a new Dutch companion to make the grueling climb to the top of Australia’s spectacular Mount Bowen. They lost their way after a full day on the trail and pitched camp beside a narrow creek. Shortly after dusk, as he scrambled up an embankment away from the creek in the darkness, Macdonald was horrified to hear a loud crack. A second later he was lying in the creek bed, both his legs pinned by a giant boulder.
What had begun as a two-day adventure had suddenly turned into a nightmare. Try as they might, the two men could not budge the massive piece of granite. There was nothing for it: Macdonald’s companion would have to hike out at dawn and make a solitary, perilous descenta journey of at least eight hoursto get help.
A gifted storyteller, Macdonald captures the terror and high drama of his hours alone in the wilderness, but he also writes eloquently about his life both before and after the accident.
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Confident of my hold, I push through the left leg, simultaneously pulling up with my left hand. Suddenly, there's a loud crack. And in that split second, I feel my balance go as the world beneath gives way.
Another crack (my pelvis fracturing, I later learn), then a crying out, no words just a groan, forced out as I tense on impact, my diaphragm pushed upwards, hard. Pain comes instantly, a sharp burning pain, shooting up from my lower body. I've got no idea what's happened at first the actual fall, even now, gone from my memory, removed perhaps to protect me. I can't move! Something's on top of me! crushing me against the rocks below. What's happening! What the fuck's going on!? I reach down frantically and feel cold, rough stone. Then, comprehension as to what's happened hits me like a steam train and I push frantically with all my might. Nothing moves the pain unbearable in my legs and pelvis, searing and grinding, like nothing I have felt before as I begin to struggle violently from side to side, trying to wriggle free.
Table of ContentsMaps of Australia and Hinchinbrook Island
PART 1: The Road Less Travelled
On the night of April 9, 1997, Warren Macdonald took his final step as a "complete" human being. Here, in an incredible story of courage and survival, Macdonald describes his battle to stay alive on Australia's spectacular Mount Bowen, as he lies trapped in agony under a massive boulder alone, for two days and a night whilst his fellow hiker races against time in an eight-hour perilous descent to get help.
PART 2: The Will to Live
Warren Macdonald's fight for survival on Mount Bowen is only the first test of his determination and his profound courage. As he signs the permission form to allow amputation of both his legs, he can't imagine the world into which he is headed. But he knows he is embarking on a journey into total darkness and, that if he does come out of it, things will never be the same again.
PART 3: The Reclamation
As his stumps heal and he learns how to live as an amputee, Warren MacDonald battles yet another infection and endures further surgery. But finally, as his strength and mobility increase, he reclaims his life beginning with a climb of Cradle Mountain.