/ Life's "can't breathe moments"

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JJL - on 06 Oct 2013
Birth of my children
The dolphins checking us out whilst diving
The top of Chalkstorm (I only lead e1/2 but got a bit carried away)
Watching my daughter compete in gymnastics
Walking into Guernica
Watching the house-size block slide, with my belay sling round it and me attached to it, in the Dollies

Yours?
Chambers - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL: It's moments like those when you really need to control your breathing!
davidalcock - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL: I'd like to hear that last story. What happened?
JJL - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to davidalcock:

Can't remember the exact route - Marmolada somewhere maybe.

Arrived on an intermediate ledge, suspect we were off route a little. The very rim was solid but above that was 30 degree sugar cubes unto the face continued some 40m back.

Scouted around with trepidation; nothing. There was a *very* big block sat on the scree, so I put my 8m sling across the back and clipped the rope through 2 krabs where they lopped round the sides and then tied back to my harness. It was probably 4m across.

Mate start up. About 5 minutes in I shifted position, pulling on the rope to the belay. To my horror, there was a grinding noise and the block started to slide. I remember thinking that I had to unclip the ropes... but fortunately the block resettled after 2 or 3 metres. I unclipped the rope anyway... and then had to just lie down. My mate comepleted the route mostly shouting "take in". He pulled over the top to find me ashen and shaking, in a scoop in the scree and a limp sling unclipped around the block.

It was 30 years ago. I learned that I should have reversed over the lip, put in some bombers and belayed and then pitched the scree. I never touch blocks on gradients now.



Ann S on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Sitting in the back of a LWB deisel Landrover with no raised air intake, stuck in the middle of a hugely swollen river in Iceland, while the driver desperately tried to restart the engine. Water on the upstream side was half way up the windows and I sucked my cheeks in (all four of them) when the back wheels lifted off the river bed and the vehicle started swinging round by the stern.

Most likely outcome seemed to be that we would be flipped on our side and drown instantly or be swept downstream and scream loudly as we went over the very scenic waterfall. After an eternity of breathing through my pores he got it started again and we heaved and spluttered onto the opposite bank.

davidalcock - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL: Blimey. Sounds heart-stopping rather than breath-stopping. I'll have nightmares tonight.

Some of mine: coiling 4 x 50m ropes blowing horizontally in force 10/11 on the top of Salisbury spire - it sways very well for an 800 year old edifice. The moment when the car flipped on its roof doing 85 on the M5 (I wasn't driving). First sight of Wen Zawn. Realising my wife and I were splitting. Clipping to my power-drill flex while laddering Mary Redcliffe. Soloing some route at Bosigran with a heavy rucksack (to camp at the top) and finding myself in extremis.
Skol on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:
Sadly, I don't have these emotions:-( :-)
JJL - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Skol:

They're only human
Skol on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:
Melodramatic.
Queenie - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Skol:

Part of the very essence of life. It seems rather sad if you don't ever get to experience such intensity of feeling.
Skol on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Queenie:
I would doubt that, being quite rational.
Queenie - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Skol:

Vulcan?
Skol on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Queenie:
Nah. Star Trek is make believe
Kevin Woods - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL: The seconds before my brother span the car at (me in the passenger seat) on ice. Ended up in the ditch between two enormous trees. Got lucky there - we pushed the car out and drove home at walking pace. Could have been a bit different.

Leading E4 with a few E1's and an E2 behind me. Desperate.

Equally, experiencing the sensation that I *can't* fall even if I wanted to, on my first E1. Felt like I was floating up the wall, and in a state of extreme calm. Special.

An wind slab avalanche breaking away at my waist, taking my feet from under me. I was left hanging by my axe above the fracture line. Pulled up instinctively, telling the axe - dontslip dontslip dontslip.
Chambers - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Skol: Never had a numinous moment when you felt connected to everything else in the universe? Me neither. It's all irrational bollocks, if you ask me.
Chambers - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Chambers: I remember gently easing my daughter out of her mother's womb and thinking 'This is cool.'
nick hawkins - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:
Asthma
kamon - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:


Of course emotional, life changing moments, but your thread title made me remember a story from my early 20s about nearly drowning:

Diving off the upstream end of a log jetty made from massive tree trunks that had been lashed up against a river bank - this was into a Borneo river that was running much faster than I expected. As I surfaced from my running dive off the end, my legs and body were already getting dragged back under the jetty.

Spent a very long/short while with the incredible force of the current dragging me under but also mashing my chest and face into the cut end of a 6 foot diameter log that I was clinging to. Lots of thoughts of diving down and trying to navigate the 50 or 60 yards of rough cut treetrunk and trapped roots and other debris underwater, or swimming under and out into the main river but which would mean going under several large ship which were pulled up alongside with engines running and presumably propellers chop chopping.

After about 30 seconds to a minute someone dragged me back on topside. Such a dumb way to nearly die
lowersharpnose - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Kevin Woods:

Leading E4 with a few E1's and an E2 behind me. Desperate.

I did the same. The E4 was an E3 back then and I missed crucial bit of gear. I was so happy not to be dead, so happy not to have broken legs and what not.

An adventure in Number 2 gully without axe or crampons on a late season day was very similar. I had to take my gloves off and spread my fingers out to get any purchase as I stabbed my hands into the snow below the cornice.

A big rockfall on the Gervasutti Pillar which scoured the (off-route, but pegged) pitched I was just finishing.

Opening my A level results in 1982.
lowersharpnose - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Chambers:

I remember gently easing my daughter out of her mother's womb and thinking 'This is cool.'

Oh yes. When my daughter first opened her eyes, when just her head was out.
Skol on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Chambers:
In reply to Skol: Never had a numinous moment when you felt connected to everything else in the universe? Me neither. It's all irrational bollocks, if you ask me.

You are the only one sane! Are you from the US of A ?
No, I've never had to hold my breath and say ' oh my gawd, this is amazing'.
I've been through several child births and it's just a natural event? They are born, they come back to your house and eventually run amock.
If I held my breath for such events, I would consult my Dr.
3 Names - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to lowersharpnose:
> (In reply to Kevin Woods)
>
> Leading E4 with a few E1's and an E2 behind me. Desperate.
>
> I did the same. The E4 was an E3 back then and I missed crucial bit of gear. I was so happy not to be dead, so happy not to have broken legs and what not.

How interesting, I had the exact same experience on the exact same climb.


Chambers - on 06 Oct 2013
In reply to Skol:
> (In reply to Chambers)

> If I held my breath for such events, I would consult my Dr.

Consulting doctors isn't quite rational, you know? ;)

Jim C - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Taking your topic literally , whilst I have had my birth experiences, and proud father moments too,graduations etc, but there has also been the opposite like, watching my father pass away in front of me from cancer, and watching my grandfather struggle for breath when he had emphysema.

ice.solo - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

several, but the one that erases all others is being in a jeep in pakistan a few years ago, on a mountain road, that was being destroyed as we drove on it by floods and landslides.
caught between two waterfalls that were coming onto the remains of the road our driver (honestly, no older than 16) decided we had to go for it and cross a washed out section that had rock face on one side (with water coming over it) and a maybe 200m drop down tthe other into a massive swollen river of near freezing water.

we went in and it was deeper than expected and a surge of water washed up over the windscreen so we all thought wed actually been submersed for a few looooong seconds. meanwhile the back wheels started loosing traction and were sucking into the pull of the water over the edge.
in some act of chance the front whells maintained traction, and we just pulled up onto the other side, lurching up out of the water that had started to come in the windows. i was in the back cargo section and water was coming in under the door.

there was 8 of us in the jeep and we all assumed that was how it was going to end for us all. f*cking horrible. we had a pakistan liason officer with us and he admitted he had started saying the islamic prayer they recite when death is immenent - something youre only meant to say once.

the whole trip had a few moments of utter terror, but that felt the most final. its the one thing ive woken to nightmares about.
Rigid Raider - on 07 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Quite a few bad moments but I guess the nearest I've come to oblivion was when I took a GF climbing at Causey Quarry. Setting up a top rope I tripped over a tree root and plunged straight towards the cliff edge, by some instint I managed to grab a root and ended up face down, more than half way over the cliff, staring straight into the shocked eyes of my GF about 60 ft below me.
mgco3 - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Somersaulting a motorbike over a drystone wall and landing ,in a muddy field, underneath the bike then getting soaked with petrol (filler cap came off the tank).

My hand went to switch off the ignition quicker than a shaolin monk...

Spent the next half hour running around the field , trousers aroung my ankles,looking for a horse trough , stream or muddy puddle to wash the petrol of my "tackle". For the next two days my scrotum was the colour of a baboons arse.
Dave Garnett - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

I've definitely had more can't breathe moments diving than climbing.
SteveoS - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Watching cars pile up in front of me when I decided to stop a few inches earlier.
Skyfall - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Wearing a gimp mask whilst indulging my passion for face sitting....
mgco3 - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to JJL)
>
> I've definitely had more can't breathe moments diving than climbing.

Hopefully not whilst at depth due to forgetting to check your gauge at regular intervals!! .........;o)(poor attempt at smiley face and bubbles there)

Fraser on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:

Immediately after a recent fall at Kilnsey, where I decked horizontally before getting to the first clip, I couldn't breathe at all. I was positive I've punctured a lung or something quite major as I coldn't even take a tiny breath. Fortunately it turned out I was only winded and a bit bashed up along my left side.
Toerag - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL: Every time I watch a thriller involving someone swimming underwater/escaping a car in a river etc.
cathsullivan on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to JJL:
...
> Watching the house-size block slide, with my belay sling round it and me attached to it, in the Dollies
...

You must either have a really long sling or a very small house.
Timmd on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to cathsullivan: It was a doll house. (:-))
hang_about - on 08 Oct 2013
> (In reply to JJL)

> Watching cars pile up in front of me when I decided to stop a few inches earlier.

I had one of those. Driving down a freeway in LA, braking as there was a traffic jam ahead and then looking in my rear-view mirror to see an enormously overloaded van (cartoon-time overloaded) barrelling into me. It missed me by swerving on two wheels for a ridiculously long time (probably milliseconds though).

Also ran into a car chase in South Africa. People hanging out the windows with guns and everything. Missed them by inches...


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