It could have been a prelude to the rope-cutting South American survival film Touching the Void, except it happened nearly 80 years earlier in New Zealand's Southern Alps.
Scottish climber R. S. Low in 1906 crawled 3km over glacier and rock and holed up in a cave with a fractured ankle to await rescue after a near-fatal slip in an icy gully.
In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates survived a series of mishaps on a Peruvian mountain.
Caught in a storm on their descent, Simpson broke his leg in a fall and was being lowered down steep slopes by Yates. Simpson dropped over a cliff edge and was held by Yates in the soft snow above. They couldn't communicate and after Yates realised he couldn't haul Simpson back up, he cut the rope.
Simpson fell into a crevasse and Yates, who couldn't find him and assumed he was dead, carried on alone. But Simpson, who had lowered himself further in the crevasse, found a way out and crawled painfully for days back to their base camp, and survival.
Low's route from Graham Saddle to the De La Beche bivvy rock. Photo / Malcolm Ross, Auckland Weekly News
In February 1905, Scottish mountaineer R. S. Low was in the five-strong party to make the third ascent of Aoraki/Mt Cook's High Peak.
Just over a year later, he was the subject of one of the Aoraki/Mt Cook region's most remarkable survival stories.
After making the first ascents of La Perouse and Mt Hicks with West Coast climbers, Low wanted to cross back to the Hermitage hotel at Aoraki/Mt Cook.
South Westland guide Alec Graham accompanied Low to the snowfields of the Franz Josef Glacier, then at 10am on February 21, 1906 left him to traverse Graham Saddle and descend the Rudolf and Tasman glaciers alone. He was carrying a sleeping bag and extra clothes but just one day's food.
In a gully half way down from the saddle, he stepped on to a thin layer of snow over ice.
"... his feet shot from under him …", Hermitage guide Peter Graham, one of Low's rescuers, wrote in his autobiography. "... his bulky pack overbalanced him as he drove in his axe, and the axe handle slipped through his fingers."
Low sped down the slope until he hit a rock which halted him violently.
The collision fractured his ankle but saved his life by arresting an otherwise inevitably fatal slide into a large bergschrund, a gap between the rock and the snow and ice.
Chief Hermitage guide Jack Clarke, who had been on the first ascent of Aoraki/Mt Cook on Christmas Day 1894, in a telegram that was reported nationally in newspapers, said Low spent four days crawling 3km over rocks and broken ice to the De La Beche Bivouac, an overhanging boulder under which climbers had often sheltered.
"He was for two days exposed to an exceptionally violent snow storm. He dragged his swag after him with a piece of rope. Finally he spent six days in pain under the De La Beche rock, and we found him."
Low was stretchered down the Tasman Glacier to Ball Hut. He was laid on a boxes-and-saddle arrangement on a horse and taken to near the Hermitage. A coach took him to medical care in Timaru and he was sent to Christchurch, where he nearly died.
Peter Graham's account shows how fragile communications delayed the start of the search for Low, who had promised to "wire" - send a telegram to - his West Coast companions on reaching the Hermitage.
They wired the Hermitage after four days had passed without word from him. But the Tekapo telephonist "foolishly tied the whole telegram" to a carrier pigeon's leg. The bird pecked off the bulky paper message, landing at the Hermitage without it. Only when a later telegram was delivered to the hotel by a horseman did the search begin.
Low was found 10 hours later, thin, hungry and with cuts on his face, hands and knees. After surgery he recovered but had a limp and was restricted to more moderate climbing.
The De La Beche bivvy no longer exists; the rock fell on to the Tasman Glacier about five years ago.