I am so glad everything turned out alright. In my own mind, the reason your friend survived is because you were with him. In the last 4 months we have read on HST about 5 different people who perished or went missing in the wilderness. What did they all have in common? Each was by him or herself. Hiking/backpacking/climbing solo involves seriously more risk than if done with others. I am not saying it is necessarly wrong, but statistically there is immensely less chance of survival if one is alone and incurrs substantial injury.
What are the things that increase the chances of survival if you do go solo?
1) Write a detailed trip plan of everywhere you intend to go and everywhere you might go. Calculate distance and elevation changes for every point along the way. For every point on the route, know the easiest evacuation route, but also every possible evacuation route in case fire blocks the primary evac. route. Leave this trip plan with at least 2 people with a date and time to contact SAR if you do not report in.
2) Have not only extensive experience, but also adequate training. I have a friend with a lot of experience. She just went on her first NOLS trip and learned all kinds of things she did not know before. Even experience and training are not guarantees. For many years I was a professional guide, instructor trainer, and then a regional director and my training was in the NOLS methodology. Nevertheless, there were times on technical climbs of 14ers when the weather changed severely and instantly, bringing on hypothermia. Had I been solo, I would have died. Likewise, I have saved the lives of compatriots.
3) Remember that staying on-trail increases the chance that someone will find you if you are injured. Staying on more frequently traveled trails increases that chance even more. The more remote the location into which you wander, the less chance you have of being found.
4) GPS, SPOT, PLB increase chances of survival greatly, but they are not a guarantee. If your device is at camp and you have a compound fracture of the leg while getting water 200 yards away, you may not be able to get to the device. Batteries can fail and you may be in the shadow of a range that blocks the signal.
If you don't have someone to go with you, remember, you can always post here on HST and ask whether someone is interested in going with you. (Choose wisely though.)
The first rule of survival: Avoid Survival Situations!
The second rule of survival: There is Safety in Numbers!
BSA Motto: Be Prepared!