Krystle escapes boulder avalanche - twice on the same climb

Sheffield student Krystle Morley cheated death twice while backpacking in New Zealand. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Sheffield student Krystle Morley cheated death twice while backpacking in New Zealand. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

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A CLIMBER miraculously managed to escape death twice during the space of one climb after an avalanche saw her come perilously close to being pummelled with rocks ‘the size of cars’.

Krystle Morley cheated death as she dodged hundreds of fridge-sized boulders during an ice climbing expedition in New Zealand.

The rockfall on Franz Joseph Glacier in South Island, New Zealand, which could have killed Sheffield student Krystle Morley.

The rockfall on Franz Joseph Glacier in South Island, New Zealand, which could have killed Sheffield student Krystle Morley.

The trip had been a lifetime ambition of Ms Morley’s, who had dreamed her entire life of ice climbing in New Zealand.

However she and her group were left helpless when huge rocks began to hurtle down the glacier.

After the rockfall subsides the group waited to be rescued by helicopter.

The climbers ran to take cover at the edge of a designated helipad but, just minutes after the rocks stopped flying over their heads, a second fall was triggered.

The 28-year-old, who miraculously escaped with just a small bump to her head, has now described her brush with death: “I heard this massive thunderclap.

“I turned round and I saw a mass of cloud and rocks and noticed our guide’s face had gone from normal to sheer panic as the rocks started to hurl towards us.

“I had my hands over my head to protect it because even the smaller rocks could’ve wiped me out.

“Boulders the size of cars and fridges were flying past us, and one the size of a microwave seemed to skim past my head.

“We were hunkered down for what seemed like forever and I was just thinking, ‘Any minute now, we are going to get crushed’.”

Ms Morley, who lives in Sheffield, was backpacking around New Zealand, on that day the group had spent the day scaling Franz Josef Glacier in South Island.

The Sheffield Hallam University environmental sciences student said she was ‘buzzing’ after surviving the first rockfall.

But the second struck as the climbers were waiting to board the helicopter - forcing it to take off without them.

“I was thinking, ‘I’ve just cheated death’, and not many people can say that so I was buzzing.

“When the second rockfall happened my sense of humour failed - I just wanted to get off the ice.

“I just thought, ‘Get me out of here‘ - whereas before I was thinking, ‘Yes, I am alive.’.”

After the second rockfall the group was able to make it safely back to base.

However it was when she returned to her home city that Ms Morley began to suffer from severe paranoia.

The feelings lasted for several days as she wrestled internally with what she had been through and what had almost occurred.

Although she still climbs she says she has consciously chosen to learn more about natural hazards as part of her course.

Now that the dust has settled since her brush with death she says the experience has given her a new perspective on life.

“I had cheated death twice and was convinced it was coming for me but it is an awesome story,” she said.

“It has made me a lot stronger and more determined to not shy away from something just because I am nervous or I do not like it.”

The nearby Franz Josef township is a little service village with approximately 330 inhabitants but can accommodate up to 2,000 people staying overnight during the main season.

It made international news in June 2010, when an Australian tourist died of a heart attack during a guided hike of the glacier.

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