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Man breaks hip after tumble down mountain

REDDING, Calif. – A climber who tumbled more than 1,500 feet down Mount Shasta escaped with only a broken hip, authorities said Monday.

Julian Lopez, 43, and a friend were taking the Avalanche Gulch route Saturday on the 14,000-foot mountain in Northern California when the mishap occurred, said Susan Gravenkamp, spokeswoman for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

The pair had reached the Red Banks area around 10 p.m. when Lopez slipped and tumbled 1,500 to 2,000 feet down the steep slope, breaking his climbing helmet and his hip, Gravenkamp said.

Gravenkamp said the spot is notoriously slippery for climbers and many have died hitting rocky outcroppings on the way down.

“That’s not an uncommon place to fall,” she said. “He was lucky; he was really, really lucky.”

Lopez used his cell phone to call for help and initially said to authorities he couldn’t move his legs.

The two men spent the night on the mountain, where temperatures dipped below freezing, until rescuers could get to them Sunday.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter airlifted Lopez from the mountain, and he was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Redding for treatment. He was released Monday.

Phone messages left for Julian Lopezes listed in the Santa Rosa area were not immediately returned.

The last recorded climbing death in that part of Mount Shasta was in November 2008.