Okay — so I am typing this with one hand. So this is going to take a while… also forgive typing errors – I honestly don’t give a fuck right now..

Saturday, June 23rd

14:00 0 [3.5k feet]

My friend Emily Cahill and myself take off down The Glacier Basin hiking trail. We have a few miles of hiking before we even get to the Emmons Glacier (The largest glacier in the contiguous US).

So just to set expectations — I identify as a climber and most of the hiking I do is bullshit and is a necessary evil to get to the climbing.

Hopefully by the time you finish reading this post you won’t ever ask me how a hike went. Check out my I hate hiking article for more information.

17:00 [6k feet]

We made it to a really steep scramble called St. Elmos pass that is how we would leave our short time on the Emmons glacier and begin a ridiculously long slog across the next glacier and its horrible boulder fields.

Emily Cahill – St Elmos pass

We traversed for what felt like days across ice and rock. We did not gain much elevation.

The Winthrop was flat, but still a labyrinth. Luckily I was able to fly on my ice axe across the larger crevasses.

Emily Cahill – Winthrop witches 

The sun began setting on the Winthrop. We could now see the lights of Seattle.

Emily Cahill – Winthrop glacier

The sun was setting quickly and we knew we needed to camp soon.

Emily Cahill – Alpineglow over the cascades

23:30 [7.5k feet]

We finally made it to a common camping spot on Curtis Ridge. We bivy’d up here — unsure what morning would bring.

Sunday June, 24th

04:00 [7.5k] feet

We woke up to beautiful alpineglow and found ourselves on top of a several hundred foot cliff looking directly at our final route. The checkerboard pattern on the dark ridge line is the inside wall of Liberty Ridge – our prize.

08:00 [7k] feet

We cooked up some glacier ice to refill our water supply and begin planning our descend. We knew we needed to rappel down the cliff to even step foot on the glacier below. Here I am rappelling down onto the glacier.

Emily Cahill – Look for Nova’s white shirt in the distance

09:00 [7k feet]

We finally made it onto our final glacier crossing — The Carbon glacier. Named for the carbon rich deposit debris littering the otherwise white glacier. The ridge in the background was looming even closer.

Emily Cahill – Nova leads the Carbon

10:00 [8k feet]

We looked back across the glacier we traversed and were surprised too see the majesty of the cliff we descended only a short while prior.

Emily Cahill – Curtis Ridge

12:00 [8.5k feet]

We spent the next few hours negotiating the Carbon glacier – finally we had a clear line to the ridge. We were so close to taking our first steps on the ridge we had come so far to climb. Here I am leading the final pitch to the rdge.

Emily Cahill – Approaching Liberty Ridge

13:00 [8.5k feet]

We made it. We looked back across the Carbon knowing we wouldn’t be able to climb back the way we came because of deteriorating snow bridges. The only way out — was up.

Emily Cahill – Last view of the Carbon

16:00 [9k feet]

Emily Cahill – Free solo Nova

I was able to free solo some of the difficult 5th class pitches in mountaineering boots and safely belay an impressed Emily Cahill up behind me.

18:00 [9.5k feet]

We were now getting excited about the route as we finally were climbing the rest of the way to the summit!








I was free soloing a very lose traverse.

I committed to a large boulder to hold me and it gave away.

I found my soft body tumbling down the side of the ridge in a massive rock slide.

I knew the ridge ultimately cliffed out — and if I fell too far I would surely die.

In 5 short minutes I went from enjoying a fantastic climb to fearing for my life.

An enormous boulder crushed my hand in the slide — and left my entire body bruised.

I saw bone.

I knew I had to get us back down.

I returned to the ridge and was pooling blood on the rock every time I held myself onto a hand hold.

We descended roughly 100 feet to safety and immediately signaled for emergency rescue.

Emily (CERNA) was able to field dress my hand with duct tape and guaze.

Emily Cahill – Nova fucks up her hand

19:00 [9k feet]

We were instructed to return to the carbon glacier and wait to signal a helicopter.

I rappelled down the nearly 500 feet to the glacier dripping blood on the ice.

The rescue team arrived and naturally I waved them down with the brightest thing I had in my pack — my rainbow pride flag!

We made it to the other side of the mountain in minutes.

We were met by ambulance – and grabbed some photographs of the deteriorating wound.

Emily Cahill – Novas mangled hand


I was numbed up for a minor surgery and stitches. I was afraid I was going to lose a finger and would have if not for quick rescue.

Emily Cahill – Surgery

Monday June, 25th


Emily Cahill – Poor Nova

I am out of surgery and discharged. There was concern of tendon damage so I need to see a specialist.

Ultimately everything turned out a-okay! I can return to work once I’m feeling better and off the pain killers.


What can you do to help?

Honestly just let me heal – typing is really hard and frustrating for me so just let me enjoy the days off. I don’t need any messages or questions – thats just more typing for me. Just let me know you’re thinking of me and that is the best!

Emily Cahill

She is the real hero here. She saved my hand and helped me get to safety. My phone was crushed so took all these pictures.

Follow her on Instagram! Can’t wait to climb with her again!

Mount Rainier NPS

Thank you for your amazing help! Will be sending thank you gifts your way soon!

Updated Pics!

Tuesday June, 26th

So a hand specialist examined my hand today and Paris was able to snag some updated (and healthy) looking pictures of my hand!

My ring finger isn’t that bad… just a little crooked and a few scratches…

1 week later…

I am learning life without feeling in my ring finger, and can finally start to use my hand again.

I can’t believe I was able to build an anchor and rappel down with this hand – adrenaline is some crazy stuff!

Things are different now…

I feel different as a climber. I want to train harder.

I want to be better.

I want to send this ridge SO bad.

We are plotting revenge and hopefully will get a chance to send it this year!

As for me, I have decided to follow up on a WFR (Wilderness first responder) certification, and want to start volunteering for my local search and rescue.

In a weird way – this horrible accident was one of the best things to happen to me in a long time.


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