Sheffield climber cheats death in rockfall

Sheffield student Krystle Morley, who cheated death twice while backpacking in New Zealand
Sheffield student Krystle Morley, who cheated death twice while backpacking in New Zealand
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This is the terrifying moment a Sheffield woman cheated death twice – as hundreds of giant boulders hurtled towards her in a double rockfall.

Krystle Morley, aged 28, had just completed her lifetime ambition of ice climbing in New Zealand when rocks ‘the size of cars’ began to hurtle down the glacier as her group waited to be rescued by helicopter.

The rockfall on  Franz Joseph Glacier in South Island, New Zealand

The rockfall on Franz Joseph Glacier in South Island, New Zealand

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

Krystle, who miraculously escaped with just a small bump to her head, told The Star today: “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’re going to get crushed’.”

The group had spent the day scaling Franz Joseph Glacier in South Island.

Sheffield Hallam University student Krystle, who lives in Totley, and was backpacking around New Zealand, said she was ‘buzzing’ after surviving the first rockfall.

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

Krystle, who is studying environmental sciences, said: “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’m alive!’.”

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

But Krystle suffered from severe paranoia for several days and returned home to Sheffield early.

She still climbs, and has chosen to learn more about natural hazards as part of her course – and says the experience has given her a new perspective on life.

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

“It’s made me a lot stronger and more determined to not shy away from something just because I’m nervous or I don’t like it.”