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UncategorizedRider Plunges Down Terrifying Cliff, Lives To Tell About It

Rider Plunges Down Terrifying Cliff, Lives To Tell About It

Misstep on hill climb sends dirt rider off nightmare 70-foot cliff.

Published on 09.19.2019

When Rick Hogge throttled his 2019 KTM 300 XC-W TPI off the edge of Colorado’s Schofield Pass last week it was an “Oh Sh*t!” moment for the ages. The software infrastructure architect from Texas, out trail riding near Crested Butte on an annual trip with his buddies, says things didn’t slow down like they do in the movies. Instead, he barely had time for a “Sh*t. Oh my God!” as he plunged from the 70-foot cliff, thinking of his kids and scrambling for purchase. 

How did his morning go so wrong? From a technical standpoint, it involved a dire lack of momentum over a very tricky uphill rock garden, followed by a potent shot of whiskey throttle. “I chose a riding line on the left as I thought it looked easier.  I wasn’t going quick enough and the front tire got kicked to the left which caused my throttle hand to twist and … well .. you saw the rest,” explains Rick.

Credit: Rick Hogge

It was an ugly moment for sure, caught in graphic detail as Hogge’s helmet cam  takes us along for the tumble. At the height of the video’s pucker factor, we watch him ricochet off an outcropping and go airborne only to splash seconds later right into the center of a small but deep plunge pool between rocks and two waterfalls. 


Despite the pool being named Devil’s Punchbowl, what we witness in this video is a miracle of celestial proportion. 

Credit: Rick Hogge

As he hit the water Hogge thought he might drown or tumble over the lower falls, but says once he surfaced he found the edge was nearby and he could scrabble up to safety and wait for help. Even more miraculous Hogge climbed out to safety under his own power, telling a home-state news site “I had the smallest scratch and smallest bruise…that went away the next day.”

What won’t fade as easily are the lessons Hogge learned that day. Though he’s been riding for 20 years, Hogge was clearly not at a skill level appropriate for Schofield’s notoriously high-penalty rock gardens and he knew it going in. In a longer, unedited version of his video we watch him barely make it down a challenging descent ahead of the fateful climb. 

Rick Hogge not only survived the terrifying fall but came out of it unscathed. | Credit: Rick Hogge

Finally, he catches his Husky-riding buddy who then schools him on the upcoming climb. “Stay right,” the guy says. “Stay all the way to the right. You can even get off and walk it if you have to.” Hogge, still fully adrenalized from the descent, shakily asks for an extra minute so he can calm his nerves and catch his breath. We all know what happens next. 

While these death-cheating moments are a thrill to watch, the real take away has nothing to do with Hogge’s stroke of luck. The lesson is about instincts and not riding over your head. Something very tough to do when you’re trying to keep up with buddies who are more experienced riders.  

Recovery of Rick’s KTM 300 XC-W out of Devils Punchbowl. | Credit: Rick Hogge

For his part Hogge, who says he’s blessed to be here to watch his kids grow, is very clear he was in way over his head riding the 300 XC-W on Schofield, even telling a reporter that while the incident won’t stop him from riding, he “won’t ever take a trail he’s not comfortable with ever again.” 

This public service announcement has been brought to us all by Rick Hogge and his miracle “Oh Sh*t!” moment. Now, about renaming Devil’s Punchbowl. God’s palm perhaps? 

Media credit: Rick Hogge

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

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September 20, 2019 4:05 am

Brother you are one very blessed Dude. Ride Often Ride Safe

S Fischer
S Fischer
September 20, 2019 9:45 pm

Two words: steering stabilizer

September 25, 2019 9:47 am

I’m thinking any cliff would be terrifying.

Glad he’s okay. Now he has serious bragging rights.

Dan McCormack
Dan McCormack
September 25, 2019 4:58 pm

Very glad to see he is well and I appreciate the skill reminder so I can avoid it.
Small note, scrabble should be scramble.

Wes Mills
Wes Mills
December 7, 2020 5:34 pm

Hi Rick I am so happy that you are safe and well —- Also I would like to say hi! to the main writer of the article Jamie “Elvidge” ——–I just want to say what I feel about the ACTUAL story which is a product of you both.——-This site has a HUGE AUDIENCE covering the ENTIRE world ——- Now the IMPORTANT THING! ——- A LARGE NUMBER of YOUR readers are RIDERS WHO ARE NOVAS OR RIDERS WHO DON’T USE EVERY RIDE AS A LEARNING TOOL.—— This accident is full of information that has not come out in the written story ——-Written well this story can PREVENT a hell of a lot of injuries or even many deaths

When I read Rick’s statement I feel that he doesn’t know what really happened ——- I fell that he has learnt nothing except that he is one lucky bloke.——– I wish that you would have given this story to some seasoned riders to read before letting it go to press. ——– I am sure that they would have said to you ” You have an opportunity to write a GREAT STORY” “BUT YOU WILL NEED TO HAVE A LOT OF OUR HELP TO ANALISE THE ACCIDENT AND TELL YOU WHAT THE ACCIDENT WAS ALL ABOUT.

Look I am in my mid 70’s and still ride often—— Every ride is different Every ride you learn something ——- Because of my age I have to NOW constantly remind myself “KEEP YOUR MIND ON THE JOB” No looking at the birds ,trees cows horses mountains [when wheels are spinning] =——– Rick have you been told about “SIGHT FIXATION”—– I feel that it played a part in this incident.

Rick and Jamie I am not saying that you are bad in any way!

What I am saying is you both underestimated “JUST HOW IMPORTANT & POWERFUL THIS STORY REALLY IS ”

If you sit down with say 6 seasoned riders and dissect the accident then write the full story ——down the track a lot of people will thank you .


Jamie as you would have guess by now ” I am not a professional writer ! HA! HA! HA!



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