Tell me the most scared for your life you've ever been.


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The Granite State.
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 8, 2013 - 09:09pm PT

There are some good stories for a Friday night, right?

I saw my life flash before my eyes one time. I was riding shotgun in my buddies truck, heading back to town from a backcountry lake.

We rounded a corner, there was a newly fallen tree with a two inch thick branch pointed just so...

The branch broke the window, grazed my cheek, and passed through the rear window of the truck, as well as the front window of the camper shell behind me.

A couple of seconds passed, then my buddy let out a 'What the f*#k dude!!! Woah!!!'

I was still a little in shock, having had an actual life flash before your eyes moment (seriously, it happened), just a few seconds prior..

We composed ourselves, and backed the pickup off of the deadly spear.

I was seriously close to death at that moment. I've had many more close calls, mostly skiing in difficult terrain, but that moment sticks with me as the point where I could have been randomly taken out.

Feb 8, 2013 - 09:10pm PT
I,was most scared for my wife when she married me. oh you said life.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 8, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
Concerned is probably a better word, you should be too busy dealing to be scared. Although, i guess, it's possible to be scared after the fact.

The Granite State.
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 8, 2013 - 09:15pm PT
Yes, scared is something you realize after the fact.

Feb 8, 2013 - 09:22pm PT
No not concerned .... scared!!!

Most scared I've ever been was filming in Hawaii.

We were doing some location scouting by helicopter a couple of days before the actual crew arrived.

1000 feet off the deck I had to jump from the helo to a waterfall covered sloping ledge grabbing wet vegetation for anchor.

The helo is bouncing all over the place from the updraft.

The blades are hitting the waterfall.

Then I'm over there and they decide it's too stupid and risky of a location.

Now I have to jump back over to the ship that's bouncing around in the heavy wind to outstretched arms to grab me and pull me into the ship.

If I miss I die.

It doesn't sound bad writing here but I was scared to death because there was no room for error ......

Big Wall climber
Richmond, CA
Feb 8, 2013 - 09:35pm PT
To me, scared climbing was something that happened quickly, then went away. The only time I've ever had enough time to think about it was about 1100 miles off of SF in 2005. Full on storm conditions, 50 kts gusting to 63 for nearly 80 hours...waves 45' unless they were bigger. FREEZING horizontal rain and hail for hours upon end. I just considered that we were screwed, so you might as well drink the beer and sail the damn boat. When the sun finally came out and we knew that we had it knocked, we just giggled like fools. I probably aged 5 years.

Trad climber
Feb 8, 2013 - 09:39pm PT
Mid-teens skiing with the guys all day and working on building up this awesome jump right in the middle of the trail with a huge drop...last run of the day and we're all flying over it one after the other. I'm hanging in mid-air, psyched and I hear/turn to see one of my buds waving frantically and shouting that we have to cut over to the other basin because the bus is over there. I turn before I land and make this fluid, fast-as-Hell carve back up the hill to the side trail and UH? Tree?! BAM!

Shoulda died. But by the grace of who knows what, I skied UP the tree. I see my boots first -- they're resting on the trunk like I'm catching some rays. My tail is right smack up against the tree. I wonder where my skis are...and I realize that my arms are straight out, still holding my poles, and as I turn my head because it's really cold, I realize that my hat is in the snow a few feet above it. One of my skis is farther back, and it dawns on me that the ski went over my head, backwards...which I find HILARIOUS and start laughing my a&& off. The last guy over the jump is skiing over with my other ski and all of a sudden everybody is there and totally freaked out, which I find even funnier. Or maybe I was just trying to breathe after having the wind knocked out of me and losing consciousness. But missing the bus back to Mass. wasn't funny, so in the careless way only a teenager can think, I snapped back into my skis and off we went to catch the bus...laughing all the way.

Man, I wish I was up there now. There's going to be some beautiful skiing next couple of days!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Feb 8, 2013 - 09:47pm PT
Most scared?

Middle of nowhere in a U.S. national park

Two REALLY PISSED OFF park service rangers with guns were going to execute me

I cried


Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
Feb 8, 2013 - 09:48pm PT
Getting the phone call that after 3 days the jury had reached a decision.

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:06pm PT
I mentioned this somewhere here before. Episode of vaso-vagal syncope in the middle of the night. I wasn't afraid I was dying, I figured I actually was. Before I hit the floor my last thought was - there's so much that I still wanted to do.
gonzo chemist

Fort Collins, CO
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:07pm PT
April last year. My friend and I left IC half a day early to try to beat the impending blizzard that's about to materialize over Vail Pass. I drive a piece of sh#t 2003 Ford Focus, with SoCal-style Z-rated performance tires. They've been on there since I moved from CA to CO. Too poor/busy to get decent snow tires and new rims for the winters here.

In Vail, the sh#t hits early. Bad. Its really bad. We're east of Vail now when we pull over to the side of the road. Snow is accumulating faster than I can even believe. We look behind us and a 4Runner careens off the road. 4x4s are losing control all around us. Literally, cars flying all over. Spinning off the road. I grew up in New England, and I've seen some sh#t...but nothing quite like this.

My friend looks at me and shouts, "we have to get the hell out of here! I have experience driving is this sh#t...I'll drive!" We jump out of the car to switch places...then a Mack truck loses it and jack knifes at 50 mph. Time slows down as this hulking mass of steel--now a harbinger of death--slides by a mere 48 inches from me. There just wasn't time to think. We get back in the car and manage, just barely, to make it out of the mountains. We drove at a steady 3 MPH for hour after white-knuckled hour desperately inching our way back to Denver.

We were hair's breadth away from total annihilation. We would have been scraped off the pavement with a spatula. It was all I could do not to puke my guts out the entire drive back.


Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:09pm PT
Close proximity to several B-52 strikes at night - think forests of light appearing out of nowhere.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
Wrong place at the wrong time. Enjoying myself at the Waikiki Yacht Club after an evening race. Old time feud between Jap-Hawaiian and a retired Air Force guy. Started when the Jap raised a white spinnaker with a Rising Sun emblazoned in the center as he passed the Arizona Memorial in a race.

Arguments got pretty hot and nasty. Air Force guy disappears for a spell, comes back and blasts the Jap in the balls and femur with a 9mm hollowpoint. Then he sprays the place; one guy in the ass, one in the head and catches me diving over a concrete wall and blows away my popliteal artery. Opened up the floodgate so to speak. I wake up in the hospital several days later with Hennek standing beside me. Oh oh, this doesn't look good.

Jap was a prick actually and I probably would have shot him myself if I had that mentality. Guy that shot me claimed insanity and said he was allergic to the additives in white wine. Spent two nights in jail and years in litigation. Ah, the legal system in Hawaii! Never had an affinity for white wine myself.
gonzo chemist

Fort Collins, CO
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:43pm PT
^^^^ Holy shit!


Social climber
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:45pm PT
Come on Rat--tell the rest of the story

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:48pm PT
Labor Day...Ocean City New Jersey, 1972 and our last romp at The Shore before returning to college. I swam competitively through high school and college so I'm a good, strong swimmer. About 4 of us romping around in waist deep water and suddenly an undertow takes my feet right out from under me and I feel myself being pulled under and out. I'm trying to grab the bottom and feel the sand going through my fingers. Eventually the 4 of us are able to link up and pull/swim ourselves to safety. It was amazing to feel yourself being pulled so strongly and know you were only in waist deep water and couldn't control what was happening. The feel of that sand going through my hands is as vivid today as it was then.


Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
I spent a while thinking about my “risky-memories” from the last 50 years.

My worst and most persistent fear was climbing W. Face of Leaning Tower in 1975.
After two days of gut-tearing fear on that climb, everything since has been "OK."

Only reason we climbed Leaning Tower was Gary’s infectious enthusiasm. The only reason we got up it was Gary’s skills and enthusiasm.

I had never climbed overhanging aid, had never jumared, and had never led a pitch with more than a few points of aid.

From the moment we first climbed the dead tree and started the wildly overhanging first pitch, with instantly 600 feet or more of exposure: I was gripped for two days.

Fritz Jumaring first lead above tree. Note rope showing how overhanging this all is.
Credit: Fritz

In below photo of Gary, note the upper rope showing vertical.
Credit: Fritz

So-----on the second hot day we ran out of water about 2 or 3 PM. I remember being very hot & thirsty for a long, long time. Gary finished the last lead in the dark and dozed on the summit while I cleaned. I beat on the last pin, which seemed to be wedged at the tip for about 5 minutes, before figuring out by Braille that it was a bolt and hanger.

We needed water badly, and a full moon was just rising to give us light off the back-side. But as we started down-climbing toward Bridal Veil Creek, the moon seemed to start dimming, then rapidly passed into shadow.

It was a full-eclipse of the moon!

As we started down-climbing toward Bridal Veil Creek, the moon seemed to start dimming, then rapidly passed into shadow.

We did down-climbing by Braille; pushed by our desperate thirst. As the backside of Leaning Tower steepened near its base: we tied both ropes together and used them as a hand-line to descend steeper slabs.

The ropes ended in the dark, touching the tops of some bushes. Gary then down-climbed free-solo, slipped off with a little yelp, and found terra-firma was only a three-foot drop away.

The muddy run-off waters of Bridal Veil Creek were extremely delicious.

Here's Gary the next morning after we staggered back up to the summit to recover our gear.
Credit: Fritz

Unfortunately, I kept at climbing.

Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
Feb 2002, negotiations between government of Colombia and FARC guerrillas fall through, the air force bombs San Vicente del Caguan, which was their capital. Army takes over town center, converts 2x2 square blocks in the middle of the town into a military base, building walls across the intersections with sandbags. I head down there with Jeremy Bigwood a combat photographer who covered the wars in central america for years, also by the way he traveled a few weeks with the Sendero Luminoso in Peru, took awesome shots of them for Caretas.

We traveled around the region to see what was up, went through a number of FARC roadblocks, they still controlled everywhere except the center of town. At one roadblock the guerrillas invited us for breakfast so how can we refuse. The food is white rice, boiled yucas and something they called a chicharron, but it was really an uncooked piece of bacon fat. Served with orange soda. While we're eating this and talking about imperialism and the CIA, these two women about 4' 6" high are butchering a hog on the kitchen table, must have been over a hundred lbs. Everyone is wearing camoflage except us. Chop chop chop, what started as a big animal was divided into hundreds of small pieces. It had the intended effect, we were definitely scared. But of course they let us go after giving us the economics lesson, just wanted to check us out and radio back to HQ who we were.

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
Enjoying myself at the Waikiki Yacht Club

Damn dood, have a few stories that start like that but never ending in the hospital.....ok wait, that's not true .... But never ending with gun fire.


Big Wall climber
Richmond, CA
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:24pm PT
Spent the summer at the WYC, they've really toned things down guido.
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