WHEN naval adventurer Rob Tristram tumbled 70ft down a crevasse in the Antarctic, he didn’t panic.
Instead, he kept ice cool, got out his video camera and started making a video diary describing his fall.
Lt Tristram turned the camera on himself and said: ‘I’ve just had a slight mishap – I’ve fallen down a crevasse. It’s about 70ft deep but luckily – I don’t know how – I’m okay.’
He was part of the British Services Antarctic Expedition organised in the spirit of Captain Scott and was leading a five-man team who were roped together when he fell through a snow bridge near Mount Rendu in the Antarctic peninsula.
He was rescued by Lieutenant Stuart Fletcher of HMS Collingwood in Fareham and others who managed to winch him out of the crevasse unscathed.
The drama happened as the team made their way back to base camp after completing the final trek of the British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012. The eight-week mission was held in honour of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his men who perished during an Antarctic expedition 100 years ago.
Lt Fletcher, 29, an instructor of navigational training at HMS Collingwood, said: ‘It was an exciting end to a very exciting expedition.
‘We were skiing back from the peak Mount Rendu and we had the ropes on. Before we set off we were saying to each other “we’ve got to be really careful, it’s the last day and we don’t want anything untoward to happen.’’
‘Then all of a sudden I saw Rob disappear. We had been walking in a straight line and this huge hole in the snow opened up under him. His weight pulled the second man to within two metres of the hole. I was the third man in the line but we managed to stop Rob falling further.’
Lt Tristram, from Leeds, used an ice screw to pin himself to the wall of the glacier while dangling 30ft below the surface, It was at this point that two years of training kicked in, said Lt Fletcher.
‘It was a case of setting up a system of pulleys and winches to pull a 85kg (13 stone) bloke out of a hole without falling in to one of the other crevasses which were next to it,’ he said, adding: ‘It turned out there were holes all around us. It was pretty hairy,
‘All our training which we had practised doing in the Alps just kicked in. We just did what we had to do.
‘We got him out and in to a tent and a blizzard bag which heats up and got a few warm drinks in him.’
The explorers have now returned home from the expedition during which they climbed some peaks for the first time and conducted vital research of the area to further scientific understanding of climate change.
Lt Fletcher said: ‘It was an amazing opportunity. I’d go back there in an instant, however I don’t think it would be a popular decision with my girlfriend.’