What is your most memorable wildlife sighting?


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Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 4, 2019 - 11:29am PT
In the mid-90’s Jack Tackle and I were climbing in the Ruth Gorge. One day I foung myself alone skiing up the gorge past Mt. Barrille on the way back to our camp. There were frequent snow showers that obscuured visibility. Suddenly, between snow showers, I saw an animal ambling down the glacier towards me from the Ruth Amphitheater, a vast ice field.

What the hell could that be was my first thought. Thinking it might be a Grizzly I started looking for a crevasse to crawl into. The snow stopped once again and there crouched on a rise fifty feet in front of me was a Wolverine. We stared at each other for what seemed an eternity until the Wolverine casually strolled off to the heavily crevassed base of Mt. Barille.

The next day Jack and I went to the base of our objective on Barille that would turn out to be the Cobra Pilllar and found fresh Wolverine tracks exactly where we established are first belay.

Keep in mind that we were miles from terra firma and the first blade of grass. I have been told that Wolverines are quite the wanderers.
Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Jan 4, 2019 - 11:33am PT
Got jumped by a cougar in a bar in Montecito one time.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jan 4, 2019 - 11:35am PT
The rarest was probably a lynx/bobcat.

Most memorable was sticking my head over a ledge and having a rattlesnake 2 feet from my face.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 4, 2019 - 11:36am PT
Huge Asiatic Ibex rams battering each other silly on a really steep ridge at 13,000’ in the Pamirs.
Got pix, somewhere.

But this is my favorite cause it’s so appropriate here...

Jan 4, 2019 - 11:39am PT
Lions taking down a buffalo in Zambia.

Social climber
A Sandy Area South of a Salty Lake
Jan 4, 2019 - 11:55am PT
I was leading Peruvian Flake, belayed by my wife. She was stationed on the little ledge that's about 10' above the actual ground. At one point she very quietly got me to look down.....to see a lynx/bobcat/cougar or whatever cat it was slowly walking by the base of the cliff below her.

Trad climber
Jan 4, 2019 - 12:12pm PT
I was hiking up to an ice climb after a foot of snow had fallen the night before. A bear that was in a shallow den came right up from under me. At first, all I saw was white and black. It ran off and settled against a tree below my climb. Shivering and groggy, it posed little harm as I put harness and crampons on a mere 15 feet away. At the end of the day I retraced my tracks and the bear was back in it's den with just the top of it's head protruding from the den. It was young and probably inexperienced at choosing a proper place to spend the winter.

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
Jan 4, 2019 - 12:36pm PT
1. Bivied out at Twin Lakes before my first trip to the Hulk. We saw smashed grass everywhere and I joked that it looked like a bear highway. That night over 20 bears rolled through on their way to the river to drink up and then head back for the hills. Scared the piss out of me as I was pretty naive at that time.

2. Bivied out at TM SAR, awaken at dawn to see a bear deliberately and lovingly licking my partners salty/sweat encrusted face. He was Eastern block so just sighed and rolled over and went back to sleep.

3. Anything big while in the ocean/diving
ron gomez

Trad climber
Jan 4, 2019 - 12:45pm PT
Back in the late 90’s, fly fishing near Joe’s Valley in Utah. Caught a huge trout and thought, “good enough, I’m done,” harvested it and started walking back to my truck with trout in hand. Saw a badger about a hundred meters out. It followed me about 1 1/2 miles and I was crossing the river numberous times trying to loose it, no luck. It closed uncomfortably close, but got back before I had to surrender my food.

Ice climber
Jan 4, 2019 - 12:57pm PT

okay, whatever

Jan 4, 2019 - 01:16pm PT
There were literally hundreds of 8-12 foot reef sharks circling lazily around the perimeter of the Blue Hole, off the Belize coast, at about 140 feet, when I dove it in 2000. We basically just swam with them for about 15 minutes (non-Nitrox dive, so bottom time at 140 feet was limited). You'd occasionally kick one with a fin, but they didn't react, or seem to pay any sort of attention at all to us, for that matter.
Flip Flop

Earth Planet, Universe
Jan 4, 2019 - 01:20pm PT
I was Eleven years old and alone on the bow of a Banana Freighter heading North from the Panama Canal. The bow wave was bright with bioluminescence and the Flying Fish and Porpoises were surfing the wave, jumping and diving in bioluminescent majesty.

The swarm of crabs in our yard in Límon was memorable.

The face-locked thrashing death match between our Spaniel and that huge Iguana at our house in Ecuador was some real live action.

When the porpoise jumped over two of us on the wave in Marina

Getting harassed by a psycho sea lion while scuba spear fishing


the east
Jan 4, 2019 - 01:25pm PT
otters in kazakhstan.

Jan 4, 2019 - 01:25pm PT
was kayaking a 500 mile segment on Yukon River. Up ahead I see something in shallow water on a sand bar. As I got closer what I thought was an otter got bigger and bigger until I realized it was a grizzly cub. The sand bar was in the middle of a meander and the river was relatively narrow at that point, maybe 50' or so. I thought, that's it, day 3 and I'm already a dead man. Luckily I quietly drifted through the area and never saw mama.

Jan 4, 2019 - 01:30pm PT
Mountain lions, two at the same time, rolled by <20' from them on our tandem bike near Ovando MT.

Ever lock eyes with a big cat with 20' of nothing between you and it? With it's ears dropping, crouched in the grass? Then pedal away with your petite wife on the back? It's a feeling unequalled by any.

I saw two together another time and got to vid them. I've posted that vid here. I've never met anyone with more mtn lion sightings, I have like eight. SoCal and MT.
john hansen

Jan 4, 2019 - 01:46pm PT
I have seen a mountain lion run across the road while driving in Yosemite,

But my most memorable is also one of my earliest memories. I was only 4 or 5 and I was in the field behind our house about six miles from the coast along the Pacific flyway. It was at dusk and I became aware of the noises coming from above me. I looked up and there were thousands and thousands of geese and ducks in large "V's" flying over from horizon to horizon.
I was mesmerized and watched till I was called in for dinner.

Another time two of my brothers and I were sitting next to a trail in a brushy area and a deer walked by right in front of us. We could have slapped his side it was so close. The wind must have been right because it never did notice us and just kept on its way.

I have some others about owls, and one involving mushrooms and ten thousand ladybugs,,:)


Mountain climber
Jan 4, 2019 - 01:47pm PT
Two adult Grizzlies @ 25ft halfway up Mount Cleveland, Glacier NP, MT.

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Jan 4, 2019 - 02:01pm PT
I was 13 years old in very rural CT splitting wood right next to my house. We had no neighbors... all woods. It was cold and dark outside so I had two huge flaming torches setup for light 'cause it seemed cool.

Between strokes there was a loud shrieking heinous sound from behind me. Whirling around in the torchlight there was an adult mountain lion that had slinked out of the woods yowling at me right beside one of the torches. We stared at each other for a good minute before he/she backed off slowly and turned/disappeared into the woods. I had seen bobcats all my life... this was no Lynx/bobcat... Huge and a loooong tail.

I've since seen several mountain lions in CT but officially "they don't exist" according to the DEP which we know is nonsense. The conspiracy theory is they were imported by the DEP in the 70's for deer control before settling on killing sheep/goats/cows which seemed certainly easier to catch. A mountain lion was killed by a car in southern CT and the DNA was from lions known to be in South Dakota... Well.... they didn't walk here.


Trad climber
Polebridge, Montana
Jan 4, 2019 - 02:20pm PT
Watching the grizzly bear follow right behind Jim Donini, from up on the wall with Larry Bruce. Bear followed him without his knowledge all the way to camp.


edit-actually Jim's wife Angela and my wife April saw the whole thing unfold as Larry and I were just out of sight of most of it.

Monterey, Ca
Jan 4, 2019 - 02:26pm PT
So I work on a whale watching boat... Ive seen killer whales tearing baby gray whales from their mothers, ive seen them toss dolphin 20feet in the air, Ive had humpbacks scratch their backs on my boat, ive seen FOUR humpbacks breach in almost perfect unison. great white sharks, leatherback sea turtles, basking sharks...

but probably the most surreal was a condor. i had just summitted a route in the aptly named "Condor Crag" pinnacle un the high peaks of pinnacles national park... within minutes a condor lands not 7 feet away from me while im belaying up my follower. she (i later learned was a she through her tag) starts creeping up to me, and i coyld tell she was interested in my helmet (i had taken off my helmet and placed it next to my while i sat on top of the pinnacle). condors often target white or milky plastic, mistakig it for bone. actually really sad because they often die or kill their chicks feeding it to them.

condor is now arms reach away, looming over me and my helmet. im staring at her giant talons and wondering about how best to defend myself in hand to hand combat with a giant mutant vulture monster who wants my helmet... so i resort to just swatting vapidly at her and saying "git!"

i dont want to actually touch her because A) what if she mauls me for it and B) a small crowd of hikers has now gathered to watch from below and i dont want to be seen as the guy who got physical with a critically endangered mascot.

so she pecks my helmet and flips it over, which actually startles her and causes her to jump back like three feet, where she basically stays.

a moment later my friend pulls over the edge, and we just stare and admire for a few minutes before deciding we need to leave.

so i stand up and rig the rappel, and the condor does her little head-twisty thing like "whatchya doing?"

i rap first, and as my friend is coming down a hiker shouts "He's pecking your rope!!!"

i look up at my friend who is thirty feet above me, and above her i can see the condor's ass sticking over the edge.

"Go! Go! Go!"

My friend raps to the ledge with me and as soon as shes off rap i grab both ends of the rope and yank them back and forth, to which i see the condor jump away from the anchor.

after retrieving the rope, i am pleased to report no visible damage.

I looked up the tag later and found out her name is actually "Little Stinker."

tl/dr: condor tried stealing my helmet and murdering my friend.

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