Argentine climber survived 4 days on Mount Logan with thoughts of love and family

For four days, Argentine climber Natalia Martinez was trapped in her camp on Yukon’s Mount Logan. A pair of earthquakes hit the area and it was too dangerous to leave on her own. But she wasn’t giving up. She knew someone was coming for her.

Natalia Martinez says waiting 4 days for rescue was physical and mental challenge

Camilo Rada, left, and Natalia Martinez are reunited at Kluane Lake National Park. Martinez spent four days alone on Mount Logan after a series of earthquakes nearby. (Steve Hossack/CBC)

"Come on, you can do it. You can do it."

Holed up in her tent, that was how Natalia Martinez urged herself to survive. For four days, the Argentine climber had been trapped in her camp on Yukon's Mount Logan at 3,700 metres.

A pair of earthquakes had hit the area, triggering avalanches on the mountain and making it too dangerous to leave on her own.

But she wasn't giving up. She knew someone was coming for her. It was a physical challenge, but also a mental one.

"The last day before the rescue, my mind was eating me," she said. "I was more sensitive to every sound. I felt alert to every danger...You have to keep focused on something and it was Camilo."   

Rescuers found a break in the weather Thursday night, bringing Martinez down and reuniting her with her partner Camilo Rada. She spoke to CBC News a day later, at Kluane National Park, at the base of the mountain.

Martinez is an experienced climber and adventurer. The 37-year-old mountaineering guide is from the seismically active Mendoza region of Argentina. Officials who led the rescue operation said she'd done everything right in planning her trip and had the right equipment to stay safe.

Argentine mountaineer Natalia Martinez was rescued Thursday night after being stranded for 4 days on Yukon's Mount Logan 1:19

Wind, snow prove challenging

As the days dragged on, things became difficult. Wind and snow rocked the tent. A zipper broke and she had to brace the tent to hold it against the wind. She struggled to keep herself warm. Even getting a few hours sleep was a battle.

"It was thinking of Camilo, I was thinking of my family. I was thinking I had a lot of things to do," she said. "I had to keep drinking, eating, changing my tent, making a wall for the wind and keep busy."

Martinez hugs her partner Rada. She said she was thinking about him while she was holed up in her tent. (Steve Hossack/CBC)

Waiting for her rescuers became a personal challenge, Martinez needed to prove to herself she could survive.

"I said, 'Come on, you can do it. You can do it. Just a few more days.' It was a little bit crazy, but I'm here," she said. "Now I know I can do it. It doesn't matter if I didn't take the summit."

Natalia Martinez smiles after surviving four days at 3,700 metres on Mount Logan. (Steve Hossack/CBC)

Martinez ate a warm meal Thursday night, took a hot shower, and slept in Friday. Once she reunited with Rada, she said she realized she was safe.

"It was beautiful," she said. "Now I'm safe. Now I'm home."  

With files from Steve Hossack

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.