CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — Bryce Evans was hiking at Devils Head Lookout Trail near Sedalia two years ago when he fell about 100 feet. He said there was a miscommunication between him and his belayers.
Evans spent the next three months in the hospital at Swedish Medical Center.
His surgeon, Dr. Peter Syre, said he suffered a serious brain injury and had to undergo surgery.
“He had such a severe brain injury," Syre said. "He was in critical condition, and there were times where it was touch-and-go, and there were times where we thought he would make a clear recovery. But there were times we didn’t know if he would wake up. Essentially, we took a large piece of his skull off to let the brain swell out, and now it looks near normal because they put the piece of his skull back on."
Evans said he knew the only way to get back to being himself was to push his limits by working to rebuild strength.
“I didn’t want to be paralyzed anymore, so I just started working”, Evans said.
Just a few months after being released from the hospital, Evans met the first responders who saved his life. Now, he's studying to be a EMT.
"After meeting the rescuers and talking to them about all of the stuff that they did and the actions that they did, that really meant life or death for me, and that really inspired me to go out and do the same thing,” Evans said.
Evans said he never gave up on climbing. He just took a break.
“I got discharged and immediately went back to rock climbing,” he said.
Within a year, Evans was back outside and taking on more difficult routes than before the injury.
"It’s something that you love to do, and you can’t stop," he said. "If I stopped climbing then I might as well not have survived the fall."
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But the challenge he wanted to face was climbing a rock at Devils Head, close to where he fell two years ago. He stays mindful of what happened in 2017 while not letting it hold him back.
“I have no regrets. The fall was an accident -- not anyone’s fault and I’m not going to blame it on anybody -- it was just a miscommunication," Evans said.
Syre said it still shocks him to know Evans has returned to climbing in this capacity.
“It's phenomenal," Syre said. "He is obviously a kid with a lot of drive, and that helps quite a bit in recovery, but I never expected him to return to a full life of rock climbing like he has.
“He did not want to give up and compromise his lifestyle. That definitely had a lot to do with how he recovered. That positive mind-frame helped him go above and beyond other patients that make a full recovery."
For Evans, the question was never if he would climb again, but when.
“If you are going to put your life on hold after something bad happens, what’s the point of getting through?" he said. "I consider climbing the reward."
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