Hiker on ‘Verge of Death’ Recorded a Final Message

Eitan Shaked was hiking alone in Argentina when the accident happened. “I was on the verge of death from hypothermia.”
Eitan Shaked​, a 23-year-old hiker began recording videos after falling off a glacier in southern Argentina.
Eitan Shaked, a 23-year-old hiker began recording videos after falling off a glacier in southern Argentina. (Photo via Instagram @eitanshaked)

An Israeli hiker fell from a glacier in southern Argentina and lay injured and freezing, almost certain he was going to die. So he began to record his thoughts.

In Hebrew, Eitan Shaked, who was hiking alone when he fell, admitted to making a mistake, said that he was in pain and that he was trying to be positive and hope for rescue. Then in English, he addresses those who might find his frozen body and his cellphone.

Advertisement

“Please contact my mother, her name is ‘mother’ in my contacts,” Shaked, 23, said through shivers in one of the videos, his right eye covered in blood. “Ah, I'm freezing, please contact her. Do whatever you can.”

Twenty-four hours after he fell, local rescuers hoisted him from the bottom of the glacier and he was flown by helicopter to a local hospital. There, he posted the desperate videos he had made as he lay helpless, including an image of the jagged mountain peaks soaring above him. He added videos and photos of his rescue and finally shots of himself safe in his hospital bed.  

The story of his near-death fall and subsequent rescue quickly made the news in Argentina and was picked up by international news media. The original Instagram post now has over 2,100 likes.

Shaked explained in the Instagram post caption that the accident took place while he was hiking alone on Dec. 7 at the Ojo del Albino glacier in the southernmost tip of Argentina, near the city of Ushuaia that is often called the “end of the world.” Shaked had been traveling around South America after finishing his military service in Israel.

He said that he fell about 10 meters, or roughly 30 feet, and when he was found, “I was on the verge of death from hypothermia.” He added, “I'm not proud of what happened to me, but I'm glad it ended that way.” Shaked survived cancer a few years ago and he said, “dealing with death up close a second time in life is not a simple thing.”

Advertisement

Shaked was diagnosed at the hospital with a fractured pelvis and elbow, along with other injuries. He’s expected to recover.

The Ushuaia Aid Commission, the group who saved Shaked, later posted on Facebook about the rescue. They said that a mountain guide heard someone shouting for help around noon near the Esmeralda Lagoon. The cries came from a place difficult to access between the glacier and the lagoon. Seven rescuers using cords and a stretcher managed to reach Shaked after several hours, and then transported him via a private helicopter to the hospital.

“What we want to teach...as a result of this unfortunate event, is the importance of always undertaking excursions in the wild accompanied,” wrote the Ushuaia Aid Commission. “Don't underestimate the mountain.”

Shaked’s near-death experience drew parallels to the story of Aron Ralston, an American mountaineer who famously survived for five days in a Utah canyon in 2003 after an accident pinned his arm under a boulder. Ralston recorded numerous videos while stuck in the canyon before eventually escaping by amputating part of his own arm with a pocket knife. His story became the basis of the 2010 film 127 Hours.

While Shaked’s story may or may not inspire a film, the Israeli traveler has taken the opportunity to repeatedly thank those who helped via his Instagram account. Once in the hospital, Shaked posted numerous stories with members of the rescue team who came to visit him, calling them his “angels.” 

He also continued to enjoy the life of a tourist, posting a photo of his doctor giving him his first mate, a traditional caffeinated herbal drink that’s popular in South America and ubiquitous in Argentina.