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


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Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:28pm PT
Guido! Sorry that I did not read your scared-shooting repy before I posted my Leaning Tower scared story.

May I say?


Did you have time to be scared before he shot you?

Sport climber
Vacaville, CA
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
1995. In the back room of a music store after being forced back inside via gun point around midnight as myself and another employee were trying to leave after locking up. No joke, I was told, "Put your head down, it is time to die" as he was pushing the gun against my temple.

He left the gun pressed against my head for a few seconds, then took off. I can only imagine the thought process that was going on in his. I looked up after I heard the door slam, and my employee who was with me was bawling his eyes out, and he didn't even ever have a gun against his head!

The only equivalent adrenaline rush I have ever had is when I went into anaphylaxis after eating some shrimp and they stuck my twice with epinephrine, one in the shoulder and one straight into the stomach.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
Well, I'd tell ya but then yer life would more than flash before yer eyes.
Can you pronounce 'Kalashnikov'?

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:45pm PT
Once I was on an ill-fated attempt at Darwin with Sonegere when he forgot his boots. We opted to try Haekel instead and swung around to the west side from the north. No guidebook. We decided to take an arÍte instead of a gully. Great 3rd and 4th class climbing for quite a ways when it got steeper. We had some 60' cord "just in case." Things got spooky but all was certainly doable. We were literally within 75 feet of the summit ridge where we would be home free to make the summit. A really easy-looking and fairly low angle open book lieback ascended to the next decent perch, so I went for it. It was easy and solid - except, when I got toward the top, the crack that was my primary gripping crack started getting sharper and sharper. The gap of the open book got wider and wider, and then, peering through the crack, I realized I was ascending on a wafer thin flake that was overhanging the gully we had opted out of. My view vertically downward was hundreds of feet onto broken talus at the bottom of the gully. I realized that I had climbed up a flake that certainly could break under my weight, sending me down to my demise. Way freaky, suddenly.

I've never regretted retreating and traversing back to an easy pass to head back to camp. I was basically in shock and scared sh-tless for the rest of the day. I had similar experiences on the north side of Shepherd Crest, the south side of Lyell/McClure saddle and in Yosemite Valley, but none quite as scary as Haekel.

Taken on that trip - Picture Peak
Taken on that trip - Picture Peak
Credit: TMJesse

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Feb 8, 2013 - 11:45pm PT
Most scared and probably most scarred would be appropriate here for me.

Trad climber
Feb 9, 2013 - 12:02am PT
The most scared I have ever been climbing was actually on an approach. Me and my buddies tried to climb the curacanti needle in the winter. The reservoir was frozen but we didn't know where the water level was at. Anyways, after a warm february day of watching huge sections of rock fall onto the ice when and after getting about a pitch from the summit, we bailed. The walk back across the ice to the other side of the canyon to hoke out was a terror fest. I kept waiting to watch my friends plunge through the ice. Never happened! A year later they went back and did it in the winter. Party of 3 isn't too ideal for that stuff and I opted out of doing that sketchy crossing.

The most scared I should have been climbing was when we were simuling n chimney on the diamond and I was leading about 15 ft from broadway when my 2nd ate it. Damn near pulled me off. I didn't really know what was going on so I wasn't scared but just very confused.

The most scared I have ever been not climbing is when I rolled my car 300 ft. off of hw 50 in sw colorado. I thought we were going to roll straight off of a cliff but got super lucky and came to a stop. Tow truck driver said he had never seen a car go that far off of the road. Cost a fortune to get my totaled car out. I am just lucky I was sober and didn't kill my passenger.

Feb 9, 2013 - 12:07am PT
Something made me take a voice/singing class once, and thinking about getting up in front of an uncaring audience and singing Handel arias was scary, much worse than public speaking or climbing. Thinking about things is the problem, both before and after the event. I still relive one part of one climb in 1962 where we were on the thin edge, but at the time I was focussed on getting on with what needed to be done. A mind is a terrible thing...
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Feb 9, 2013 - 12:13am PT
If youíre rock climbing I think that there are many times you are just a breath from death and donít know it. Maybe weíve all been there.

Closest I came - with time to digest it - was going through the springtime lake ice on skis. Buddy went through first. I tried to get close enough to throw him a rope. Mistake - broke through. Got the skis off and laid up on the ice. Tried to mantle onto them. Ice was candled - like slush - always collapsed. After while I tried to get the pack off - it was taking water. Hands were numb - couldnít feel the buckle. Stuck with it. Kept mantling around looking for firm ice, the hole getting bigger, the strength draining. Finally, water at lip level, thought I might as well let go. No way out. But I remembered what a guy looked like we fished out of a lake, and that pissed me off.

Think, dammit! Canít get on top. Canít swim under it. Gotta go through it!

Hung onto the skis with one hand, broke the fragile ice with the other arm all the way to shallow water. Slipped off the ski grip once, went down. Muddy bottom clung like a dead hand. But I pushed up, kept going, maybe 100 feet. Barely able to move. Finally crawled ashore. So did my buddy. There was a drift of dead aspen leaves under a south facing sunny cutbank. Gnawed the matchbox open (couldnít use fingers), got a fire going. Stumbled up and down the beach area collecting wood. We thawed for four hours. It hurt. The pain felt good.

Thereís more to it - another even closer call which still horrifies me - but we got back across the 5 miles of lake next day, by helicopter, after building 3 signal fires. Pretty dumb then, learned a helluva lot since.

There was plenty of time to feel the warmth and life being inexorably pulled out of me. They say dying of hypothermia is easy. Donít believe it.

Trad climber
the middle of CA
Feb 9, 2013 - 12:24am PT
There are some really good ones in here too

Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Feb 9, 2013 - 12:53am PT
Jeez Ron - you sound like you've lived your life at gunpoint!
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 9, 2013 - 02:06am PT
Mid 70s me and a friend had just soloed a small waterfall (waterice) in the Snake River Canyon. We were traversing up the slope above the waterfall to get to the next section of ice when I heard a loud crack and looked up to see the whole upper wall of ice coming off. It was probably 50-100 feet high and it was in the air coming at me. I dove into a very shallow depression in the slope and somehow the ice just washed over and past me. My friend was far enough behind me to be OK. We were glad there was no rope to help drag us off. The worst part after that we had to downclimb a rotten hollow wall of ice to get to the ground 100 to 200' feet below. I don't remember being that terrified but the elation later sure meant I was at some level. It was one of those situations were we should have climbed earlier in the week when it was colder!

I got pretty scared once when I lost control of my Corvair coming down From Castle Rock in San Jose. The car was leaping wildly from one side of itself to the other (just like it was supposed to) and I just missed that big tree..............

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Feb 9, 2013 - 03:02am PT
one time i was sitting on the beach at new zealand, and all of a sudden the tide starts going out, like a frickin tsunami is gonna come in, so i ran up the trail and scaled the nearest pali when all of a sudden a 100 foot wave of purple winged maggots came crashing ashore, once they landed, they turned into jungle chipmunks, which headed up the cliff to eat us, then an F-14 dropped a load of tear gas and leaflets asking for the support of jimmy hoffa for the international teamsters union,
the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Feb 9, 2013 - 06:24am PT
Most scared climbing.
space babble with Cosgrove in 1984- that route is bold..

solo ascent of ZM. couple of pitches up there sent me for a loop for sure.

burning down the house..

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 9, 2013 - 06:38am PT
I did once go both end-for-end and rolled several times as a passenger in a Toyota MR-2 after locking rear bumpers with a car going the other way at high speeds. Oddly enough I wasn't scared, but rather was just staring at the glove compartment button marveling at how comfortable the seat belts were.

When it came to a stop the glass was all gone and there was pretty much nothing left of the thing except for the cage we were sitting in but we were both completely unhurt - kudos to Toyota engineers.

Another time I stopped at a stop light turning yellow only I never actually slowed down. I distinctly remember looking in the rearview mirror and seeing this:

Not what you want to see in your rearview mirror...
Not what you want to see in your rearview mirror...
Credit: healyje
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Feb 9, 2013 - 07:02am PT
Come on Rat--tell the rest of the story

Only told a few people.

Decades ago, I was hiking in a remote area in the days before cell phones. I was doing contract investigations for the park service, and had made arrangements with the park superintendent to do some detailed exploring of the area. The area was remote, but was serviced by a 4x4 road.

There were a lot of Anasazi structures in the area, and evidence of a lot of pot hunting. The floors were all dug up, screens, shovels, buckets, etc. This was not careful archeological excavation, this was pot hunting. And it appeared to be recent.

I saw an old cairn near the trail and went over to take a look. That was my job. Below the cairn I found some pristine Anasazi pots in plain sight. The pots were probably more than 1,000 years old.

Unbeknownst to me, the park service already knew about the pots and had installed motion detectors at the site. The pots were in a several-month process of being repatriated to the local Native American tribe. The superintendent knew that I would be doing detailed exploration in that area but had not warned me of what I would find, and had not told what to do in case I found something like that.

I didn't know what to do, either, so I did what I thought was best. I was concerned that someone would steal the pottery, and it would be a few days before I got back into civilization, so I moved the pots about 2 feet so they weren't in plain sight anymore.

Later that day, two park service law enforcement officers, who were also Native Americans of the local tribe, caught up to me. I had set off the motion detectors and they thought that I had stolen the pots, so they took me back to the spot to see if the pottery was still there.

When they saw that I had moved the pottery, they were furious that I had "defiled" their sacred items. I explained to them my concerns and why I had moved the pots. I asked why the park service hadn't warned me of what I would find, and why the superintendent hadn't instructed me what to do if I found such items. Of course, I apologized profusely and told them that I did what I thought was right.

None of that mattered. The park rangers were so furious that they had their guns and they were going to execute me. Can you imagine what it's like to be sitting on your knees while two people with guns argue about who gets to shoot you?

Moral of the story: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Have you heard that before?

Trad climber
Feb 9, 2013 - 08:24am PT
All good tales here:

I counted up how many times I have been VERY close to death, and the total is 9 times. In most cases, I wasn't scared for long, since it was over in less than a minute, in all but one case.

I've been shocked by lightning twice; wounded in Vietnam twice, a bullet grazed my head, and a load of shrapnel in my leg, the second time.

Fell in a crevase while my dumb-ass was soloing Mt. Blanc in Feb.

My multiple epic solo of the Prow, in 1970; including a 100 foot fall, and getting caught in a raging hail/lightning storm on the last pitch.

Getting grazed by a grapefruit sized rock, while attempting a new route on HCR with Phil Gleason.

Taking a bad leader fall 8 years ago, on halfdome, climbing with my son. I got pretty banged up on that one.

I think the fear factor escalates when you have more time to think about it, and my scariest moment was on the last pitch of the Walker Spur, belaying John Bouchard up, trying to beat an approaching thunderstorm.

We didn't make it in time, and the storm was on top of us. Hail, snow and continuous lightning strikes, in close proximity.
We met up with legendary Voytek Kurtyka and partner, who were following us, in a hurry as well.

Voytek took of leading and Bouchard soon after. It was blowing snow so hard, I really couldn't see very far, but there was this huge lightning stike, and a large rock came flying by.

I expected to see John's body fly buy as well, and I knew I wouldn't be able to hold him, since I had no anchor.

Voytek belayed me up 1st, before his partner, since John took a pretty bad hit from the lightning.

Years later, Voytek, in an interview said that was his scariest moment in the mountains; as well as mine.
Stewart Johnson

lake forest
Feb 9, 2013 - 09:19am PT
climbing down this
Everests back side, no people, bring  $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Everests back side, no people, bring $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Credit: Paul Teare

Feb 9, 2013 - 09:35am PT
To get really scared, you need some time to appreciate the problem you're in. I guess the most scared I ever was was early in my leading career, wandering around somewhere on Seneca Rocks, off route, in terrain that was too difficult for me, and which didn't take pro. Arms pumping, hands sweating, not sure when it will end, and no way to go down, except by falling off.

Jim Henson's Basement
Feb 9, 2013 - 11:02am PT
Wow Rat.. You got the MOTHER of all tooling.

Great stories everyone.
east side underground

Hilton crk,ca
Feb 9, 2013 - 11:09am PT
doing 90mph down 395 while my daughter's throat is constricting due to some unknown virus, thinking I might have to do a emergency tractiotomy.
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