how to not die: the fall

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 on Signal Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. This year, I am in Chattanooga on my 11-year anniversary, and I thought that, for the sake of my new readers, I’d repost my story (this may take a few days) . . . If you’ve already read it, I’m sorry! If you haven’t, I hope you enjoy!


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.


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…

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4 thoughts

  1. Even at a third read, it is still an enjoyable experience. You’re a gifted story-teller. There must be a divine reason for your survival. Blessings and love to you, Jess, xoxo

    • Thank you, Subhan, and especially for reading it three times! Part three (coming up) is my personal favorite. It’s time for me to write more stories like these… I hope you’ve been well! Blessings to you, too. :)

  2. Read your story last year…and was really moved (had a great friend from high-school whose life was forever changed in a rock-climbing accident. Look forward to reading it again, as you write so well and good to be reflective as the Year of the Horse is upon us.
    Cheers to you!

    • You had a high school friend who went through something similar? Yikes! I wouldn’t wish an accident like mine on anyone. I hope that they’re okay today!

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