how to not die: the fall

Ten years ago today (January 25, 2003), I fell 80 feet (24 meters) while rock climbing at T-Wall, a popular climbing site in Tennessee. The doctors said I might not live; when I did, they said I’d never be the same again. Today, not only am I “normal,” most people don’t even know this incident ever happened. This is my story.

T-Wall (image:


The sun was falling from the sky. Once it dropped below the hills, all light and warmth would disappear. The clouds were chameleons: yellow, pink, and purple. Somewhere a bird twittered.

An icy wind crept into my jacket. I shivered. Beyond the edge of the mountain, a silhouette was standing far below. “Just remember what I said,” my friend called.

Just remember what he said.

I took a deep breath and leaned back. My harness cut into my jeans. I couldn’t feel my fingers.

Grab the rope. Loosen the rope. Hop, hop; braaake.

I looked at the complicated system of ropes and carabiners before me, then at the small tree the ropes were attached to up above. Here we go. All I wanted was to get down and get warm.

Grabbing the rope above the carabiner with my left hand, I loosened the rope with my right, and then I hopped. Braaake. That wasn’t so bad. I tried it again. Grab the rope. Loosen the rope. Hop, hop. Braaake. This time, I descended a little further.

I actually enjoyed belaying. Bouncing down the mountainside, feet first, weight in a harness, I felt like I was on a trampoline. It was fun. But this was the first time I’d ever self-belayed — this time, my rope was my partner.

Grab the rope. Loosen the rope. Hop, hop; braaake. Grab the rope. Loosen the rope. Hop, hop; braaa— But then something happened. I’ll never know what. Suddenly, I was falling, crashing and bouncing and plunging to the dirt floor below.

•               •               •

Some people talk about near-death experiences as though the sky opened up and angels sang and the good and the bad—their entire lives—flashed before their eyes in a split second. I’m here to tell you that that’s crap. At least it was for me. Despite floating in and out of consciousness while I nearly bled to death at the base of the mountain and talking to the paramedics when they finally arrived two hours later, I don’t remember anything about my accident until I woke up in the ICU three and a half weeks later. Nothing . . .

The story, though, goes something like this:

When he saw what was happening, my friend tried to grab the rope to stop my fall. It didn’t work. Instead, I nearly landed on him. I crumpled onto my stomach. Rolling me onto my back, he saw blood pulsing from a gash on my head. My right shoulder and jaw were askew. I didn’t look good.

January is early in the year for rock climbing in Tennessee. It’s a cold country. We’d seen other climbers earlier in the day; now, we were alone. My friend had no choice — he left me and ran.

He ran the mile down to the gravel parking lot. When he arrived at my car, he saw glass on the ground. The driver’s side window was broken. He searched for my cell phone; it wasn’t there. My wallet was gone, too. Thieves are notorious for breaking into cars to steal climbing gear.

There was nothing else to do. He drove like a madman. At the first house he saw: Knock! knock! knock!; no answer. At the second, he heard gun shots. Seriously? Finally, at the third house, someone answered the door. “Hu-hullo?” He called 9-1-1. They gave him a blanket. He raced back to where he’d left me.

I’d been a good girl. I hadn’t gone anywhere.

“I- I’m sorry,” I tried to say.

“Shh,” he said.

In the dark and cold, we waited.

The Tennessee Wall (image:


A climber at T-Wall. I can’t find any of my own old photos… They’re all on my old computer. :( (image:

How To Self-Belay

How to self-belay. (image:

Google map of T-Wall and other climbing locations in Tennessee

End of Part One

Note: Self-belaying is an advanced rock climbing technique that only experts should attempt. At the time of the accident, I’d been rock climbing several times but was by no means an expert. My friend was far more experienced than I, but this accident was not his fault. Sometimes, things just happen. And sometimes, they happen for a reason.

101 thoughts

    • I did. God was really looking out for me. I’ll be posting the more of the rest of the story soon. It gets even more intense. Thanks so much for reading. I am blessed to be in touch with you!

  1. Thank you so much for writing this Jessica. I never new exactly what happened. I do know that many people cared desperately about you. We were called in the middle of the night and were told you may not make it.

    Having a child your age, your grade, brought it way too close to home. We were stunned that this could happen to someone your age, our child’s age, our friends child. This was not something on the news far removed from us. We felt way less in control of the universe.

    Funny how we read history, watch the news and yet can’t believe stuff when it happens to us. These things happen on the news far away. A whole community waited for what seemed like years to hear what would happen. The outcome seemed pretty tenuous and was pretty tenuous. You have triumphed over some significant challenges. Your struggle to get a toehold on life is an example to me.

    • Thanks, Terri. Even I am amazed when my dad explains everything that happened. It was pretty intense and truly amazing that I lived. I do believe God was watching out for me… You’re also very right. We often see things from afar but can’t believe it when they happen to us. I certainly never expected an accident like this to happen to me. Now, it seems so very far away. And yet I have physical reminders of it every day.

      You bring up another good point when you talk about a feeling of a loss of control. I know my parents felt that way as they watched me struggle to survive. I’ve given up on controlling my life. I mean, I try to control certain things—how clean my house is, how often I exercise, that kind of thing—but when it comes to the BIG stuff, such as whether or not I get into grad school, I know that that is out of my hands. I simply make the best decisions that I can with the knowledge that I have at the time, and what will be, will be. You can’t ask for more from yourself than that.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. It means the world to me.

    • It definitely was, Subh. I had to drop out of college for the rest of the year to recover. I haven’t even gotten into the most gritty of the details yet… Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, btw. I’ve been meaning to comment on several of your posts, too. You keep posting all this great stuff that I haven’t had time to get to. My apologies!

  2. Beautiful writing/story so far, Jess! Looking forward to reading more soon!

    Renita …
    (a [distant] relative; your dad’s fav cous, LOL)

  3. Great writing. Thank you for sharing your story. I remember when this happened, I was at EAS and Mr. Norton could barely tell us- he was so scared and saddened. I just remember us all praying a lot and it being very somber. We were all very concerned…I’m glad you are doing well now and can’t wait to hear the rest!

    • Hey Kate! So good to hear from you. I love to see your pics on facebook from time to time. :) Thank you for your prayers… They pulled me through. I’m working on part two right now. Thanks for reading and especially for commenting! Hope you’re having a wonderful new year!

  4. Great post, and thanks for sharing your extraordinary story. I think that the life probably doesn’t remain the same after one goes through such experience, a crucial turning point indeed. Once snatched from the jaws of death, some toothmarks may be expected to linger physically – although mentally one can be expectedto be lot stronger than ever before, realizing the other side and appreciating how precious and valuable the life really is – which can make each new day more enjoyable and worthwhile to live. I do look forward to reading Part Two. Thanks, and have a great day.

    • Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. Yes, it was truly a significant event in my life. I will never be the same. The mental aspect was a lot different for me, though, than many people imagine… I’ll explain that soon. Hope you’re having a wonderful day!

  5. Jesus. I held my breath through parts of this.
    I used to free climb. The highest I went was a couple hundred feet. I don’t do that any more, but I do climb towers for a living.
    I’m also a safety coordinator with my company, and I so often tell our guys that things do happen. No matter how safe you are, things can happen.
    What a story. Palms still sweaty.

    • Thanks for commenting. Glad I could make an impact. Yeah, we weren’t very smart that day. Didn’t really have a plan in case anything happened. I’m truly lucky I lived, as you’ll see in parts two and three… You climb towers for a living? Be safe!

  6. Greetings from Australia Jessica,
    I’m extremely grateful that you lived to tell of your tragedy, as it symbolised your courage and determination in the face of adversity. You have a strong and beautiful character Jessica; I sincerely wish you all the best in future with your health.
    God bless you.

    • I can’t thank you enough for your kind comment. I only hope half of what you say is true. God is good, and I am lucky…and yes, pretty tenacious, too. ;) I wish you the best and can’t wait to check out your site. Hope you’re having a wonderful new year!

      • Dearest Jessica,
        God is indeed the source of love and all that is good. I have had a difficult childhood, almost died at twelve because of a heart problem, and recently was involved in several serious car accidents needing complex neck surgery, that have left me with permanent physical injuries. Nevertheless, after years of rehabilitation, I am back at work recently working once more as a physiotherapist and also photographing what I’m passionate about. I have culminated a greater spirit of gratitude as a result of physical pain. Suffering and hardship has a way of humbling oneself and being more acutely aware of ones’ mortality. I have been Christian for many long years, nevertheless the suffering that I’ve endured has merely lent wings to my soul, drawing me ever closer to Christ. As a result I strive to love my fellow neighbour and see beauty in every situation to a greater degree then ever before. Your experience with near death is an amazing testimony and shining light for me; I’m sure that God has big plans for you, and I am full of joy that He has blessed me with your beautiful testimony.
        God bless you in every way.

      • Wow, what a story. I am so glad that you are okay—and especially that you’ve found strength and joy in your own difficult circumstances and can still do the things you love. That, to me, is an amazing testimony. Many people in your shoes would have lost hope… A positive attitude, and acknowledging God, can go a long way.

        I appreciate your comments so much. My accident has been something of a paradox for me. When the world seemed to expect that I would feel so much closer to God because of what had happened, I felt very much the same. Unlike my parents, I couldn’t remember the worst part of my accident. All I knew was that I now a lot weaker. I also had a hard time understanding why I lived. “Why me, God?” I would ask. I felt guilty that I survived when someone else—a kid in a car accident, for example—didn’t. People told me I was special. They still do. But I believe everyone is special, or at least can be… I feel like I flounder a lot in life. I can’t be special. Not someone like me.

        It is true, though: An accident like yours or mine is definitely humbling. I was forced to realize I am flesh and bone. My parents were forced to rely on others and trust in God during a truly difficult time.

        Shortly after the accident, I would have told you that I didn’t care that I had lived. “Death is just like sleeping,” I would have said—because that is what those three and half weeks that I don’t remember were like for me. Today, I would tell you that I am glad I lived. I have learned and grown so much since I was 19. (I had my birthday in the hospital.) Three years ago I moved to Taiwan. There, I discovered a whole new way of life. I met a beautiful people and saw a God who was so much bigger than I’d ever imagined… I have also learned to love at a much greater capacity in recent years. I agree: It is a thrill to find beauty in every situation… And to allow my heart to break when I know God’s is, too.

        God bless you. Thank you, again.

    • Thank you so much, Daniyyel! Your comment means a lot. Yes, it was a tough experience. Thankfully, I survived. I appreciate that you read my stuff so much! I’ll be headed your way very soon, too. :)

  7. Your accident, Jessica, launched a community into deeper relationship, empathy, and gratitude. I remember the daily phone calls, the prayers, April rushing from DC to be with you and Amber’s heart wrenching account of seeing you right after the accident at the hospital. The daily medical updates from your father combined with Karen’s non medical reports gave a clear and concise picture to those at home, waiting fearfully, for hopeful news. We learned life should never be taken for granted. Your wellbeing really mattered.

    I am anxiously waiting for part 2 & 3 of this piece, even though I know most of it. Your writing is such a good read.

    • Thank you, Karen. It was a big event in the community, I know. I am lucky to come from such a tight-knit loving clan… It’s hard for me because I don’t remember most of this. In part three, I’ll finally get to things from my perspective. Not remembering is both good and bad. Good because much of what I went through was a nightmare and not something anyone would want to remember. It was bad, though, because, when I woke up, I felt very much the same. Just a little—okay, a lot—weaker… But it wasn’t the spiritual revival people seemed to expect I would have had.

      I’m glad you like my writing. I hope parts two and three do not disappoint.

  8. Jessica,
    What a riveting and challenging story. Have you seen my friend Arash’s blog called Arash Recovery? He fell in July of last year and is the process of regaining his capacity to walk. I am 100% certain he would love to know your story and he lives in Berkeley where he got his Masters degree. I would like to put you two in contact with one another.

    • Hi Michael,
      Oh, wow. I just found his blog… See, while many people consider my recovery miraculous (which it was), I at least had the fortune of NOT breaking my neck or seriously injuring my spinal cord. Life would be so different if I had… So Arash has a much harder road in front of him than I did. I respect and admire the tenacity that it takes to get through something like that more than I can say. I definitely had my moments of tears during my recovery when I didn’t know if my arm would work again. But to think of possibly never walking again??? Unimaginable. Especially for someone like Arash. Thank you so much for telling me about him. I’m going to go comment on his blog now… Additionally, I am hoping to get into Berkeley for my masters, too… It’s a small world.

      Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know.

  9. Emotional post ,happy ,sad and tears l felt the same time Thanks God for your recovery.Miracles do happen.Have a wonderful day.jalal

    • Sorry for the late reply! Stupid wordpress put your comment in my spam box. :( Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. They mean so much to me. I hope you have a wonderful day! Part 3 is coming!!!

    • Thank you! It is personal, but, strangely, I don’t mind sharing it at all. Part 3 is almost done—describing life in the ICU is difficult! Thank you for reading and commenting. I’ll be back by your blog soon. :)

    • I’ve thought about submitting my story to a magazine for publication. People have suggested a book, too, but I just don’t know how much more there is to write. Telling the day-to-day life of a patient in the ICU or in rehab isn’t all that exciting. So I don’t know. But I would be happy to talk with you more!

      • All the rehab and ICU is nuts and bolts. The true story is: how did you survive? what did it do to you emotionally? how did it change you? think metaphorically: who does not experience “a fall” in their life and try to pick up the pieces (bankruptcy, a divorce, a broken home, alcoholism). The pathos is great, and the potential is limitless. Re-writing your pieces into one, long comprehensive piece for a magazine would a be a great first step. I can help edit if you like. That could lead to a movie or a book. The key is to not downplay your experience. It’s a gripping story. Why did you go to Asia?

      • Sorry I couldn’t get back to you right away!

        Yes, true. You’re right. You bring up a lot of good points. Maybe I’ll start working on the rewrite of my blog pieces for a magazine article. I’m sure there are publications out there that’d be interested. I’ll let you know and be in touch.

        I went to Asia for two reasons: I couldn’t find a writing job in the States, and I’d always wanted to live abroad for a while. I wanted to experience a different culture and broaden my horizons. Taiwan and Hong Kong did both—and then some.

      • It gives you additional writing material. Ok — so here’s the mind-blowing tip for using your blog as a launching pad for writing: get as many followers as you can. Grow it by leaps and bounds. Work at it patiently and progressively. Because when you get thousands, the publishers, the editors, whoever, can’t ignore you.

      • I was thinking I had better say that I don’t mean to come across as condescending. I offer suggestions because I think I know better than anyone. I offer suggestions because of a life-changing event when I was in Guatemala. I was trying to establish a school. Who helped me do it? Ironically, it was not hardly the Christians. It was more the non-Christians. The Christians were willing to help only if I paid them. I didn’t have money. The non-Christians, by and large, not all, were just good, decent human beings offering to help for no reason other than to help a fellow human being.
        Needless to say, that impacted me, and I swore I would be the Christian who helps for free. So what I have learned blogging by experience and from my SEO friend, I offer freely to anyone who is interested. Cheers!

      • No, no not at all. I appreciate your feedback and advice so much! My life and this blog are taking unexpected turns right now and your insight is invaluable.

        I felt the same way in Taiwan when some of the most decent and kindest people I met were the locals, who would go out of their way to help me while my Christian friends did not do the same.

        I want to be a Christian who helps, too.

      • Ok, here goes — as long as promise not to be offended. Think of the “like” button as a business card. Go around the reader in whatever topic you like, say, “Christianity” or “inspiration,” and like blogs indiscriminately. If something really appeals to you, read it and write a comment. Otherwise, just drop off your business card. Grateful bloggers will come back to you and correspond your “like.” A percentage daily will “follow” your blog. Do them the favor to “follow” their blog. I couldn’t find displayed the number of followers on your blog, so I don’t know how many you have, but like I said, you need thousands to publish. You can get over a thousand in about six months if you will follow diligently this simple strategy.
        Second, your writing is better than 99% of the stuff on wordpress, but you could do better to incorporate photos. Browse pinterest, tumblr, instagram, not google image, and swipe photos. Write the credits on the file name of the photo and store them in a folder. If you get more than one photo from a single blog or site, you can store them in your folder “Blue Fields Travel Blog 1″ and Blue Field Travel Blog 2” etc. Get the kinds of photos that make you pause and say “Wow, that’s beautiful!” Then use them arbitrarily with your blog. These draw the reader into your text, which I already said is outstanding. In my first blogs, I used few photos and thematically related. later I realized this was unnecessary. What draws people first is beautiful pictures, second beautiful text. They create an emotional experience for the reader.
        As I said, I hope none of this makes you feel bad. The deal is this: I try to help people. Then, you may one day help me. I want to be a published author one day, and you’re the critical link. How are you the critical link? I don’t know yet. But I do know that God doesn’t bring people into our lives on accident. Cheers!

      • Not offended at all. Your advice is good and are things I need to know. I really only started writing on this blog seriously a few months ago, although I’ve been blogging a lot longer. So I am learning and appreciate all the advice I can get. When I first started writing, if a stranger “liked” my post, it was a big deal. Now, I see that you’re right… The photos thing is something I hadn’t thought about. I’ll do that… Thank you, again. It’s a lot to think about! I believe we stumbled across each other’s blogs for a reason, too. Hopefully I can help you as you mentioned. :)

        Also, if we chat more, maybe we should do it through email? My contact form sends you to

  10. I am so touched at the community of faithfuls around you but even more at your spirit; which I’m sure had a heart-to-heart with God those weeks when your body was in ICU, and a loving God that listened to all of the prayers for your life. We cannot possibly understand His wisdom and certainly the emotions that you go through are hard and not quickly dealt with by some worded sentiment from a stranger. But know these aren’t easy words to write as I’ve been in the trenches, far different than yours but know that even as we quest God, that leads us closer to Him. Does that make sense to you?

    • Yes, it does make sense. And you are right. I know that the very search for understanding is a pathway to Him. And it is very true that, while we cannot understand His wisdom now, we can have the hope that we *will understand someday! Thank you very much for reading and sharing your kind thoughts.

  11. Wow! Someday, I hope that my children can share what happened to them in a terrible school bus crash. I can share from the momma side, but there is power in the being there. Your story brings tears to my eyes as I can only imagine that like my children God had/has big plans for your life.

    • Thank you so much, Kandy! That is very sweet of you. And a school bus crash? How horrible! I’m so glad your kids are okay… How old were they? Luckily for me I don’t remember the worst of it. Parents often get the worst end of it! And I hope you’re right that God has plans for my life. I sure am trying. :)

  12. Wow, that’s an amazing experience. What a moving story! You truly were saved and loved by the Supreme Divine. You are a beloved soul, Jess. You truly are. And I love your words: “Death is just like sleeping”. And the great thing is to recover from such accident and live life to the fullest to the level that is enveloped with Love is a remarkable thing. I think you should write a memoir on this and beyond, and it could be another ‘Eat Pray Love’. :-) You have gone through the most important thing in life, perhaps it is now the time for you to help others to go through theirs through your work?

    • People keep telling me that. It’s funny, I see it so differently than everyone else. For me, it was just a blip in my life. A fall I had to get over. As I stated in “the missing piece,” the people around me were spiritually affected far more than I was. But I think you’re right. The implications of such an incident extend far beyond even the accident itself. I believe I *will* try to write a memoir… someday.

      Your kind words and encouragement mean the world to me.

  13. Hi Jessica this is a beautifully written piece and a very moving story. I’m glad you have recovered so completely. I too count myself among the lucky, having been involved in a riding accident where I fell off my horse and it then fell on me (all half a ton of it), shattering my pelvis. I’ve also recovered fully but, like you, I can remember almost nothing about lying on the ground, bleeding internally and waiting for an ambulance. What I do remember was put together though other people’s accounts.

    The funny thing is, I don’t regret that accident. It helped define me, like everything that happens to us. I hope you feel the same.

    • Thanks, Jake, so much for stopping by and especially for commenting. Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about your accident. I’m glad you recovered—fully? I’m sure you didn’t have time, but if you read the rest of the story (I had to break it up into several parts—the rescue, the i.c.u., the missing piece, the road to recovery, and the “real” missing piece), you’ll see that I *do* feel the same.

      Wow, I feel like such a moron for just giving you those links. I’m really not trying to self promote here. And I know you’re busy responding to your recent freshly pressed stuff! But I guess what I wanted to say was that, yes, like you I don’t regret what happened. It didn’t “change me” in the way many people expect, but it *was* a significant event in my life that has made me who I am.

      Again, really impressed by your site! Hoping to go to grad school in the UK. So, following! :)

      • Just read the rest of the series Jessica and I have to say I’m completely with you on wondering why people are congratulatory about my recovery (yes, fortunately a full one). The people who deserve the credit are the paramedics and doctors who saved my life and my family and friends for supporting me, although I appreciate how people are so well-meaning.

        Thanks for your support of my blog and best of luck applying to grad school in the UK.

  14. I had what seemed like a near death experience whilst diving and all that happened as I looked up at the surface from deep down was, oh, is this it? No angels singing whatsoever either.

    • Haha. Well glad you made it! I actually had an experience like that while river rafting years ago—looking at the surface, unable to get there… But it wasn’t even close to near-death. But, yeah, in neither experience were angels involved. Thanks so much for reading!

      • I really enjoyed reading your posts! Thanks for the taking the time to stop by and replying to each and every comment. Please continue writing, I’ll be back!

      • Thank you! I *will* continue writing, and I love the interaction with readers that a blog platform provides. I liked what I saw on your blog. Thanks for your reply!

  15. I’m happy that you didn’t die. The Lord protected you. I don’t think I have ever had a near-death experience. I did suffer from hypothermia once when I hitchhiked from Texas to Kansas.

    • Hypothermia is terrible! I’ve felt hypothermic when water skiing sometimes. Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad I didn’t die, too. ;)

  16. I am not sure how to put my feelings into word to be honest as it was nice to see the blog then this post made me really shocked …I am happy for you that you have been given another chance..and God Bless you dear…thanks for sharing…

  17. Amazing testimony. I really enjoy your gift of writing, and look forward to following your work. Thank you for sharing!

  18. Hi Jessica, I’ve just stumbled on your blog, gosh what a terrible experience. The most wonderful thing though is that you survived and recovered. Even though I certainly don’t wish something like this to anybody, I bet you see the world through different eyes and each day with a different meaning. I’m going to read the rest of your series now. Hugs!

      • Well… I think you’ve read all of the stories by now. It’s just that I can’t remember so much of my accident. My recovery was easy, but the worst parts when I almost died are completely erased from my mind. Taiwan and Hong Kong, on the other hand, were like entering a new world. They opened my eyes to a part of the world I’d previously known nothing about. It was amazing!!!

        Thank you so much for reading, Sofia! Sorry it is taking me a while to respond to your comments!

    • You’re so sweet! I’m so glad you stumbled onto my blog, and I will definitely try to check out more of yours soon, too! Yes, my accident was terrible, but it’s in the past now, and I am so very lucky… It could have been much, much worse… And it has made me who I am, scars and all. It is so wonderful to meet you! Thank you for your interest and all of your kind words!

  19. Reblogged this on shift and commented:

    A year ago today, on the ten-year anniversary of my rock-climbing accident, I decided to write the story of my near-death experience, which happened on Signal Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. This year, I am actually *in* Chattanooga on my anniversary, and I thought that, for the sake of my new readers, I’d go ahead and repost my story. (This may take a few days.) Anyway . . . If you’ve already read it, I’m sorry! If you haven’t, I hope you enjoy!

    • Thank you so much, Ann. I am flattered. Part three (“The ICU”) is my favorite. And I’m glad I recovered, too! Otherwise I wouldn’t be here to tell my story to you!

      Thank you for reading! I hope you’re having a wonderful week. :) Jessica

    • Thanks, Charly! I remember you commenting, too. I agree about the importance of perseverance. Absolutely… It’s always great to hear from you! Hope you’re having a great week! :)

  20. 10-year anniversary, God is good. I remember reading your story too, but it’s a great reminder to be thankful for life and the power of the human spirit. We need to celebrate our incredible victories and stories of survival. Bless!!

  21. What a horrifying experience. I am guessing that eventually cycling was part of your rehab? Both physically and mentally? I am so glad you survived to tell your story, and to leave your very important impression on all of us.

    • Thanks, John… Yes, as you’ll soon see, I did pick up cycling because of my accident. That comes in part five, I believe. It’s a crazy story to look back on, that’s for sure. “That was really me?” Yes, yes it was.

  22. i know i read this before but can’t recall if i commented or not. you retell the moment with such detail (and well written!)

    what a harrowing experience… but it sounds like God definitely had big plans for you and He kept you alive with a purpose.

    look forward to seeing more of His purpose unfold through your story… =)

    • Thank you, Sophia! I spent a lot of time writing this last year and with good response, so I thought it might be worth posting again. Although I am eager to get onto writing about other things (now that I am home again), I will be posting the rest… It *is* true that if I hadn’t lived (which was almost the case), I wouldn’t have ever traveled to Asia (Cambodia!) or be alive today to tell this story to you… And that’s something.

      I hope you’re having a good week!

  23. Wow what a read – I used to rock climb in the UK (Matlock Bath) – but never in such a beautiful place as you’ve shown in the pictures. and your fall…. in brief must have made you the person you are today…
    One day, I’ll write something as interesting as this… Stephen!

    • Thank you, Stephen! What a compliment. It is a beautiful place. I’ve actually been back recently and plan to post pics soon. Yes, my accident was a big deal, but my experiences abroad have been just as big a deal. It’s funny how everything we experience shapes us!

      I’d love to hear your stories! I hope you do write them! :) Jessica

  24. So how did you fall?
    1. Did your rope break
    2. Did your carabiner break?
    3. Did your harness break?
    4. Was all your gear perfect after, no breaks?
    5. What was your anchor?
    6. Were you wearing a helmet?
    7. Did you have an autolock system in place?
    8. What belay device were you using?
    9. Were you wearing rope gloves?
    10. How could a climber avoid this catastrophe?
    11. What have you learned from it?
    12. Will you ever climb again?
    13. Did you fall directly to the ground or was it slowed by your climbing equipment (belay/friction device)?

    I would appreciate it so much if you could get back to me!
    Thanks for your touching tale.

    • Sorry I didn’t see this until now!!!

      I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what broke or didn’t break. I think the gear was intact when I landed. I was anchored to a tree, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember wearing gloves. I didn’t have a helmet on. There were a lot of things we should have done differently that day. We should have had an emergency plan in place. We shouldn’t have done that last climb as the sun was setting when we were the only climbers on the mountain. I honestly shouldn’t have been self-belaying at all because it was a technique beyond my own skill. But I was with a more experienced climber, and I trusted him. I shouldn’t have trusted him.

      I have climbed since the accident, but only a couple of times. I’m not sure if you read the rest of the story, but a lot of your other questions (what I learned, etc.) were answered in parts 2-5. I did not fall directly, or I’m sure I wouldn’t have survived. I hit a lot of rocks and debris on the way down.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!! Sorry again it is taking me so long to get back to you. I haven’t been keeping up with my blog lately like I should!!!

  25. ps. I was hit by a truck in the rain when I was 18 and launched 25ft. I remained conscious which the ERTs couldn’t believe. My friend was right behind me and our two friends were across the street. I was looking at one of them, running to her, when I was struck. So I know how hard it can be to get back to “normal”. I tried to get up and walk away after but bystanders pinned me down and prevented me from getting my asthma inhaler. The first thing that I said to my friend when he came to me after impact was “I’m still invincible”, referring to an ongoing joke we had. I overcame a few life threatening injuries, but they’ve never prevented me from doing anything. Well, they’ve never physically prevented me from doing anything :)

    • Yikes! I’m really glad you are okay today. Did you break any bones? (Dumb question, eh?) How long were you hospitalized? I’m so glad you lived to tell your story.

  26. Friggin scary. It’s been 15 years this year. I’m glad that you have fully recovered physically from the experience. When I was 13, I fell (a few stories) while climbing a tree – branch broke – and did have a near death experience; I watched myself fall – it was as if my sprit separated from my body.) My recovery was far quicker than yours and it also excluded the robbery (losers 😡).

    • Wow, thank you for reading! My blog design needs updating and I don’t expect many people will take the time to look around. Yes, it’s been 15 years. I’ve almost doubled my lifespan since this happened. It feels like forever ago, but I still remember some things quite vividly and have scars and a weak shoulder to remind me every day… Glad you survived your fall okay, too!

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