Rescue by iPhone? How 1 Man’s iPhone Saved Him from Certain Death After Falling Alone on a Mountain

Ryan Kime | BackcountryBackcountry | BrainsBrains
hidden crevasse
Hidden Crevasse,

Solo Session

What would you do if you found yourself injured and alone on the mountain?  Who would you call for help?  Just ask Tim Blakely, a 41-year-old personal trainer and snowboarder with over 17 years of experience, most of which is solo and done off-piste. While casually riding in the Swiss Alps on what appeared to be a routine day, Blakely suddenly found himself in a life or death situation.  He had mistakenly fallen 15ft. through a hidden crevasse in the snow and was saved only by a fragile snow bridge. He was now on his back and at an altitude of over 10,000ft. Worst of all, Blakely had once again been riding alone.

Quick Recovery

Keeping his wits about him and remaining calm, Blakely realized that he only had 3% of his iPhone battery remaining and so decided to retrieve his batter booster in his backpack. Carefully moving so as not to disturb the snow bridge and initiate his fall to certain death below, Blakely found his booster and activated his iPhone’s Emergency SOS feature for help.

SOS Emergency Feature
iPhone SOS Emergency Feature,

Emergency SOS Activation

This Emergency SOS Feature connects you to local emergency services. Once the call is finished your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message. The SOS Feature also sends your location and updates to your emergency contacts when you change locations, and depending on the version of the phone you have, this activation differs. iPhone 7 or earlier users should press the power button at the top right corner of 5 times quickly.  If the user has an iPhone 8 or later, press and hold the side button and volume button until you see the Emergency SOS slider. Activate the SOS slider and then once confirmed, this feature connects you to the local emergency number.

iWatch SOS Feature display
Apple Watch Emergency SOS Feature,


Blakely’s choice to use the Emergency SOS Feature eventually took 20 minutes before he got hold of local emergency services.  Another 45 minutes, Michael Schwarzel and his Swiss rescue team arrived by helicopter and safely evacuated Blakely off the mountain top.

Blakely is safe and recovering today. He said he is grateful he will walk away from the incident with only a torn ankle ligament (he is expected to make a full recovery.) After the accident, Blakely said, Never solo again. No matter how experienced you think you are, it is no joke. I was lured into a false sense of security which also led me to be very blase about researching the areas I snowboard.”

Risks, Rewards, and Riding with a Buddy

There is always risk involved when you are on the mountain.  Going solo and off-piste exposes you to obstacles, hazards, and rescues that are much more complicated and risky than simply when you are riding with a buddy. Be safe and know your risks at all times! At least for now, I think I might travel with a buddy who also carries their iPhone fully charged!

tim blakely
Tim Blakely (left), PC: instagram

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