A Moyne man, who survived a fall of some 250ft down a mountainside in the Pyrenees, will undergo an operation this week to straighten his four broken ribs. Philip Cosgrove suffered severe head injuries and broken ribs when he fell while descending the 10,265ft (3,129m) Gourgs Blancs peak in Huesca, northern Spain.
The incident, which occurred on Wednesday, August 8, last, left the avid trekker feeling “very frightened”.
Speaking to the Leader from San Jorge Hospital in Heusca, the English language teacher said: “There is a lot of pain. I got a big blow to the back of the head. They are doing x-rays at the moment because they want to find out if there is internal bleeding. I just want to get out of this hospital and have a drink of wine and go to the beach.”
Philip, who lives in the city of Viga in north west Spain, explained how the accident occurred: “I was with a group of five Spanish climbers and we had reached the summit, but I decided to descend the mountain alone as I wanted to go back a different way.
“I’m a very good climber but it was a very difficult descent, very steep. I reached a point at around 2,800m (9,200ft), where the mountain was covered in snow, and I decided to slide down a small slope, because it seemed safer than trying to walk it.
“But I lost control and just took off. I was crashing into stones, trying to steer as best I could but really I was out of control.”
Philip fell approximately 75m (250ft) before crashing into rocks. A Civil Guard mountain rescue team was sent out to search for him on foot, but he was located by a helicopter just 40 minutes after the emergency call was made. Philip was then airlifted to San Jorge Hospital.
Philip, a former teacher at Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, has been teaching abroad since 1982. Despite this, he returns to Mullinalaghta each year where he has a holiday home.
“When I worked as a teacher in Ireland my subjects were English, Geography and sometimes Maths. When I left to teach abroad, I first went to Algeria and then I moved to Viga around 1983. I am settled there now and I have a son, Sean (18), there too,” he said.
Speaking about his love of trekking, he said: “I do this every weekend in places all over the world. I trek up to 3,000 metres.”
Asked if his fall would put him off his love of trekking, he said “not at all”.
“As soon as I get my ribs healed again, I’ll be back. I’m looking forward to getting back to trekking. I love to trek at home too, in the mountains of Donegal,” he added.
Gourg Blancs is near the Spanish-French border in the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park, near Benasque, which has the highest concentration of peaks with over 3,000 (9,834ft) in the Pyrennes.