Ammon McNeely


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Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 1, 2013 - 02:37pm PT
Ammon, if you do lose that leg, talk to Pete Chausey (sp?) from Reno. He lost a lower leg a couple years back in an industrial accident, & before he was out of the hospital, he was designing his climbing foot to go on his metal leg. He's pulling damn hard still; did an astroman lap recently. Not bad for a guy without a foot.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:00pm PT
Lidijias Husband? If so Yes he cranks from what i hear. And there is also the young Tahoe guy that lost his leg from rockfall in Carson this year. ROUGH YEAR FOR LEGS!

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:11pm PT
After Hugh Herr lost both of his feet to frostbite, he was climbing as hard as the best climbers in the country using his self designed prosthetic climbing feet. I remember one day in Eldo when we were trying something over our heads, and he pulled out feet for dime edges, thin cracks, smearing, you name it. Now, of course, he is a famous doctor who is a pioneer in this field.

He could outclimb all of us with his prosthetic feet. Sure, he was super gifted, but it didn't slow his top level free climbing skill down too much.

Next post: Fear

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 1, 2013 - 03:56pm PT
There are many types of fear, and back in the day, your ability to control fear could really set you apart from the others in Camp 4. Some guys could do A5 day after day after day, and the rest of us would always have trouble controlling that fear. On a wall, it goes on for days, and if you finish one pitch, there are usually others that you are worried about as you fall asleep. Doubt can creep in and any plausible reason to bail starts crossing your mind, or at least mine, because I didn't do very many.

I call that a chronic type of fear. I suppose war is similar to that. The old saw about long periods of boredom interspersed in a background of boredom. On all of the really hard nailing routes, many people would just wither and come down, and we see it all of the time. That long term fear allows doubt to seep in, and many bails are just an inability to control that fear. Why else would anyone bail from the Nose, where I can attest to aiding every inch one year when I hadn't done a pitch in seven years.

We all know the guys who can handle this type of stress.

BASE has a different type of stress. When you do your first BASE jump, it is not uncommon to be so wrapped up in fear that you feel like vomiting, or your head is spinning and not really focused.

The MICROSECOND that your foot leaves the edge, all fear vanishes and your senses become incredibly alive. It is a feeling that I have tried to describe, but it is difficult. Time dilates wildly, and the sensation is pure and distilled.

It takes different minds to do both the chronic fear and the acute fear. Many first jump students land and remember nothing of their first jump. Their senses were overloaded and they just shut down. Some people do the opposite: they come totally alive doing what is essentially similar to a jump to your death suicide type situation. If you get sucked in by those moments of absolute clarity, then you get eaten alive by your inner monkey wanting more and more of it. Some types of jumps even get boring.

You eventually get where you just don't feel right unless you are either jumping or planning your next trip. The sensation is so utterly blissful and beautiful that you want it again, kind of like a drug.

We used to do a lot of hallucinogens back in the day, even those of us who didn't even smoke weed. The game was how much can your mind take, and at that level when I had the 9th highest number of jumps in the world (a whopping 100), I wasn't hanging much with anyone other than these mutants.

The transition from climbing to BASE was inevitable. We would meet on the summit of El Cap, watch them jump, or we would watch them in freefall from directly beneath, even hollering whoops back and forth from the climbers to the jumpers.

A lot of climbers got into it early, but only made 4 or 5 BASE jumps. Doing one of all 4 objects and getting your chronological number was the goal for many and then they quit. I was one of the first to pretty much totally quit climbing and get totally sucked into BASE. My only claim to fame. There were always better climbers and jumpers than me, but I had the type of mind to handle both types of stress and fear.

Now, later on, we see Dean Potter and Ammon and Steph Davis and others who also had minds that could handle the stress and fall in love with it, because we felt no stress. I do admit to nearly puking from fear on my first BASE jump, from El Cap. However, I sucked it up and launched. What I did not expect was for the fear and doubt to vanish in a microsecond, morphing into a hyper-aware and fully sensing being. The feeling is incredible, and it isn't a "rush" or "adrenaline junkie" or whatever non jumpers like to call it. It is turning your awareness up to 11.

El Cap is pretty damn safe. If the NPS would let us, there are hundreds of jumpers all over the world for whom it would be a super safe and beautiful jump. It has never been regulated, and even when it was legal, the skydivers broke all of the rules. Back then skydivers were like the bikers of the sky, and there was a lot of partying and an outlaw atmosphere. BASE jumpers don't like the outlaw atmosphere. They just want to do their thing and not get thrown in jail. Time doesn't allow me to tell the stories of how badly jumpers have been treated after being caught in the valley.


Ammon has both types of mind, and excels. Very few BASE jumpers could handle El Cap A5. Very few El Cap a5 people can handle BASE. Those who can do both are unusual.

Ammon and Hankster's accomplishments are far away from any of mine, but they are both very odd ducks. Maybe one in 10,000 can be comfortable in both realms without fear creeping in and shutting down that full blast awareness which is so addictive.

Hank jumps things that we would have never considered back in the day. Our canopies landed much harder, and he does super tight and unfriendly landing areas. A lot of the jumps are short, so he has fractions of a second to react if anything gets weird. I forgot to mention that he does the big jumps with long delays as well, but I've seen some video of him and Pumpkin jumping objects that we looked at in the 80'w and early 90's and wouldn't even consider. So he excels at it.

BASE is unreal if you can handle it. All I originally planned on was doing El Cap once and back to climbing, but after that first experience on my 8th jump off of student status, I could think of nothing but doing it again. The smartest thing that I ever did was skydive every weekend and pillage our 1600-1900 foot antennas every night with the correct wind direction to eliminate the possibility of object strikes.

Most of the Moab cliffs aren't super overhung, so even a really good jumper can have a strike if they get a 180, much less a spinning malfunction caused by a broken brake line.

Jumping is the best, and the long delays really burn your head more than a one second delay on a short object, even though the short object is actually more difficult from a technical standpoint. Certainly more dangerous. You have almost no time to deal with a problem like Ammon had.

People like Ammon and Hankster and Dean and Steph have unusually strong minds. I used to solo right up to my limit, and that involves pure thought and action as well. It is still a little lite compared to the BASE experience. I know of nothing to compare it with, and the wingsuit flyers have created an utterly new experience that I've never felt.

Anyway, it isn't for everyone, and I know climbers who tried to get into it but it felt bad. That is the fear creeping in. It isn't that these people are quote "brave," it is that they somehow come alive in high stress situations. So alive that it is nigh impossible to communicate to an Earth person.

I have NEVER seen anyone keep so calm when their foot is facing them with snapped off bones keep that calm. Ammon is a freaking mutant among mutants.

Imagine how many Ammon's took a wrong turn and spend unhappy lives as accountants making money they don't want to buy sh#t they don't need, and they call that a rich life?

I lean toward's Ammon and Hankster and Punkin and Dean and Steph and I'm sure others. Incredible minds. In the past who knows what they would have been?

Trad climber
SoCal Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Nov 1, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
couchmaster - And jokes from people who don't know how to tell them and will never be confused with being a comedian too.
Um, I hope yer not referring to me and my duct tape suggestions. Because they were in no way meant to be jokes, period. Its a serious matter.

For instance, duct tape was brought on the first trip to the moon. And, in fact, saved the mission. Patched a wheel on the landing craft (or something). Otherwise, there wouldn't have been any walking on the moon. Furthermore, MJ wouldn't have come up with the "moon walk" dance. And, thousands of kids probably woulda ended up joining gangs instead of becoming break dancers, etc! ... and on and on!

OK, so perhaps I got a little carried away with the, "patching a hole thats opening up in the canopy on the way down with duct tape on the end of a cheat stick" thing (i did think it was a rather ingenious idea at the time, though). And I dunno, but i wouldn't say that it would be entirely impossible. Worth a try anyway, what other choices would you have in that sort of predicament?

And I detect that you probably know about as much about base jumping as I do...nada! So, wrap yer head around this scenario, perhaps. Say yer flying in one of them wingsuits, and it starts to come apart on ya. Would ya rather have a roll of duct tape in yer front pocket, or not? I thought so, so would I! ...nuff said!!

Oh yeah, the "fixed that puppy right up" (sticking his leg back together with duct tape). Well, obviously, it would've been beneficial to have a couple sticks, branches, or whatever handy on that ledge for additional splinting support, then wrapped it with the duct tape (thats a no brainer). So, now it doesn't sound like just some lame joke, eh?

edit: Hey, cut me some slack. I'm making an honest effort to make a positive contribution to an otherwise negative situation. Sometimes the most obvious and simply solutions are overlooked. Regardless, there's no way I would jump off my garage, let alone a cliff, bridge, skyscraper, or whatever (should i ever feel so inclined) without duct tape! ...just sayin!!!

Nov 1, 2013 - 07:45pm PT
we spread ammon's rig out on my deck today before it departed to GJ, since he probably won't be able to inspect it himself. i know next to nothing about chutes but only one of the lines were severed and there's a smallish tear at the nose of the canopy. there was some blood on the container, which my dog tried to lick off, haha. new brake lines, which ammon said probably contributed to his 180 since he wasn't used to them, his theory anyway. hope i'm not embarassing myself by using the wrong terminology but i figured someone might be interested in this info, even though it wasn't a completely thorough inspection.

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Nov 1, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
Hey all -

Ammon got ahold of me a few days back but he's been in surgery and offline since. Could someone PM me with what hospital he is in? Wanted to go say hi. Thanks.

Trad climber
East Coast US
Nov 1, 2013 - 07:54pm PT
Maybe it's deeper in this thread, but if Ammon needs help paying medical, is there a link to to help?

Social climber
Vancouver, BC
Nov 1, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Ammon, you are one calm and bad ass mofo. I wish you a speedy recovery getting back on your own feet.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 1, 2013 - 09:58pm PT
Money? they should monetize that video on youtube.

Just keep healing , we all want to see you up and blowing our minds again asap.

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 1, 2013 - 09:59pm PT
Good idea!

You made the front page of The Blaze.


Trad climber
RV, middle of Nowehere
Nov 1, 2013 - 10:13pm PT
VegasClimber and to all

St. Marys Medical Center
Grand Junction, Colorado.


Denver, CO
Nov 2, 2013 - 12:05am PT
Hi Ammon,

I hope you get back to 100% as quickly as possible.


Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Nov 2, 2013 - 12:05am PT
Thanks. Looks like I have a long drive ahead of me tomorrow then haha.

Big Wall climber
Reno, Nevada
Nov 2, 2013 - 01:33am PT

Sitting here in the hospital pecking away on my iPhone. I wasn't thinking straight when I let my friend drive off with my laptop. Had two surgery prosedures back to back and a bunch of visitors today, one of which was Charles Cole from Five Ten... speaking of, do I get my own shoe now? I was wearing the Ivo Knivo's, they should make the Slam'n Ammon's, haha.

Anyway, the trend after every surgery so far is, "it went better than expected". The big one is on Monday where they are going to plate, screw or rod my tibia and possibly graph the flap patch (aiiigh), on the exit wound. Then a few more cleaning surgeries after that. As long as infection doesn't swamp my ship. It's going to be a long road to recovery but I'll be back at it, soon enough.

Thanks for all the positivity and well wishes. I feel all the love from my hospital bed and am truly grateful to have such an amazing tribe of friends in my corner, rooting for me.

External fixator
External fixator
Credit: ElCapPirate

Nov 2, 2013 - 01:41am PT
Fuking brutal dude ......

Hang in there Ammon, everyone is rooting for you ......

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 2, 2013 - 01:59am PT
Man, all that hardware looks crazy familiar. Including the wound vac in the eliptical cut. You'll have a nice scar from that baby but that wound vac works like a charm.

Call you soon and hang in there Hermano!


Social climber
Nov 2, 2013 - 02:00am PT
hey there say, ammon...

thanks for keeping us updated, so we don't OVER-worry, :)

prayers for no infection, of course, and:
where, pray-tell, do we send get well cards, etc...?


Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Nov 2, 2013 - 03:00am PT
Great to talk to you tonight man, it's awesome to hear you in such good spirits. Will see ya tomorrow!

Big Wall climber
Nov 2, 2013 - 03:16am PT
Hey Ammon, never wrote in a Forum, but now i have to! i hear over the ocean that you were harder than a rock!!!!!!!!! I am sooo happy that you still there! Its like the hardest wall you have to climb now but i am shure you will make it and i will be so happy if we rope up in the future again. sending you lots of energy over the ocean from thomas (Bavaria) ((((-;
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