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New Zealand college student survives 80-foot fall from Yosemite’s Half Dome

Hikers gather in the foreground as climbers use the assistance of cables to scale a granite dome
Climbers scale Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in this July 15, 2014, photo. Early this month, a student from New Zealand fell as far as 80 feet from the rock formation’s Snake Dike climbing route.
(Brian Melley / Associated Press)

A student from New Zealand is recovering in a hospital after falling as far as 80 feet from Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome this month.

Anna Parsons, 21, broke bones throughout her body and had her left foot amputated, but it was “nothing short of a miracle” that she survived, her sister wrote on an online fundraiser page. Her family said Parsons’ medical bills have run up to about $1 million from the brutal fall.

Parsons was on vacation in Yosemite with her climbing partner, Jack Evans, before they were to start school in Canada, Evans told Climbing magazine.

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The two marine science students, who met at the University of Otago in New Zealand, climbed Swan Gully on July 31, then went to ascend Snake Dike, a popular route on the southwest face of Half Dome, early the next morning, Evans told the magazine.

Evans said Parsons was in the lead when she climbed out of his view and past an anchor, a spot on the rock where climbers can clip in to secure themselves.

When she realized she had skipped the anchor, she tried to climb down but slipped and fell about 70 to 80 feet.

The Oregon-based volunteer dive team that located the body of missing 16-year-old Kiely Rodni is now searching for two other missing California women.

“I remember sliding,” Parsons told SFGate. “I hit a ledge, and I had lots of pain, and I remember looking at my ankle and thinking, ‘Oh my goodness,’ as it was in pieces.”

Paramedics arrived by helicopter and inserted a needle into her chest to keep her breathing after her left lung had collapsed, she told SFGate.

Parsons suffered broken bones in her neck, spine, pelvis, ribs, and feet, according to the online fundraiser set up by her sister, Jessica Ennor.

Her left foot, Ennor wrote, was injured “beyond repair” and was amputated.

Despite the extensive injuries, Parsons remained conscious during the painful ordeal.

“It will be a long journey to recovery,” Ennor wrote, “but if anyone can do it, Anna can.”

Parsons had travel insurance, but it will cover only part of the costs of the surgeries and care, Ennor wrote.

So far, the online fundraiser has raised more than $330,000 of its $500,000 goal.

“It means so much,” Parsons said in a video message from the hospital that was posted on the fundraiser page. “It’s actually going pretty good, which is amazing. Just hoping for some grants to cover some medical bills, and pray for those.”


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