I was climbing on the north wall of an Alpine mountain, along a path classified 'ED'. (Extremely Difficult.) It was before modern ice axes, and I was very delicately balancing on the points of my crampons. I had to keep my cheek right up next to the wall. If I turned my head, my nose would bump into the wall, making me lose my balance. Well, at one point, I evaluated the upcoming situation mistakenly. I thought I was going to be able to climb the next thirty meters without using pitons. But I found the ice to be tougher to maneuver than I had expected and my progression became more and more difficult. Anyway, there now was no possibility of putting on an ice piton without losing my balance. The wall was close to vertical.
I would have fallen about forty meters with a high probability of dying, as there were rocks and ice below. I naturally started feeling fearful and was thinking over and over: 'I am going to fall?? NOW am I going to fall? Uh-oh, how can I get through those next few inches??' I looked up for a second, and all of a sudden a deep realization of the wild beauty of the place swept over me! The serac (pinnacle of ice) was glowing with stripes of all colors, and behind it, a sharp, beautiful icy peak emerged over the nearby mountains. Suddenly, that beauty expanded to encompass infinity! I was pervaded by infinite joy, infinite pleasure, and infinite confidence in my climbing ability! With effortless skill, I climbed out of the difficult zone and my safe arrival brought me a sense of perfect security and triumph!
I, in no way, had exaggerated my perception of difficulty and danger. (The path was classified 'ED'.) The danger was real, and my intense fear of impending death was realistic, and it brought me this extraordinary experience. All those feelings and sensations were truly wondrous and infinite, transcending any experience I had ever had.
Date NDE Occurred: june 1965
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I was climbing and I incurred a high risk of falling with a high probability of dying.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
Did you feel separated from your body? No
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal I didn't feel total, lasting infinite joy and pleasure, just glimpses of it, like I think any normal person would have.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I developed that altered state of consciousness in a moment of acute agony, as I was feeling overwhelmed by the belief that I was on the point of falling to my death. The highest level was probably as the altered state began. That lasted a few minutes, the time required to climb out of the steepest zone. Alertness had to be maximum, as climbing was extremely difficult. (It was not merely courage. I was also acting with extreme care and skill.)
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Prior to the experience, I was in a normal state of mind, climbing with a friend along a beautiful wall. Then immediately before the experience, I was frantic because I thought I was as good as dead. But during the actual experience, what I saw around me was infinitely beautiful.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I have no recollection of anything special with my hearing.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? No
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Sense of infinite beauty of the scenery, infinite joy and pleasure, infinite self confidence in climbing skills.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? No
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Slightly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated I was raised in the Catholic religion, but was an atheist at the time of the experience
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Slightly important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience For years I had an entirely materialistic view of that experience. Thought of some inner injection of andrenaline and endorphines in a moment when this could save my life. Talked of this experience with Pin van Lommel, whom I met at the Tucson conference on consciousness. He said that it could have been an angel. I have been touched by this observation. My own studies on quantum information made me less materialistic and less sceptical about the togetherness of existence.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes The only change I see is rational in character. I think I have been presumptuous about my possibilities and that this could be a natural defect of mine that I should be doubly attentive to.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? I am uncertain if God exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably does not exist
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife probably does not exist No
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I slightly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I slightly fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Slightly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Slight changes in my life I do not think that the experience affected my attitude toward life, but perhaps it did leave me with a feeling of gratitude towards an unknown entity for my having been so very fortunate on that occasion.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Uncertain The thing that is difficult to express is the sense of 'infinity' in the feelings. I think one would have had to experience it to understand it.
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience I forgot many things in almost fifty years. That experience was so extraordinary that it is forever branded in my mind.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I was surprised by the capability I had within me of feeling infinite beauty, joy, pleasure.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I kept it hidden for decades because it was coupled with my having badly and stupidly risked my life. I have spoken of it with a few persons recently, now that I am old. I think the Internet is an important tool in bringing statistics regarding these experiences to critical mass, so that they are emerging into the public eye in a significant way. Prior to the Internet, each person probably believed his or her own experience to be a subjective, unrepeatable phenomenon with no significance to others or to the world. And I am now interested in consciousness studies.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain Previously, I had experienced altered states of consciousness in totally quiet situations, (e. g. while watching a film) where I thought I could clearly see the meaning and purpose of life, as well as the workings of its inner gears and its relationship to eternity. Those were different from this current experience on the mountain, because they were closer to states of knowledge (albeit knowledge influenced by emotions.) My fear of death experience was different, not related at all to any insight about our fundamental nature, or any thoughts whatsoever. It was pure experience. Of course, thoughts and emotions came afterward.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I thought that it was due to some inward injection of adrenaline and endorphins in a moment where this was functional to survival.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I still do believe in the chemical aspect of my experience (adrenaline etc.) although this might not be an exhaustive explanation. After all, angels might exist.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain I have experienced other altered states of consciousness, although less related to senses and more to a sort of mystic knowledge of everything.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? For years I maintained an entirely materialistic view of that experience. I thought that it was due to some inward injection of neurochemicals such as adrenaline and endorphins just at the moment when I needed it to save my life. I talked about this experience with Pim van Lommel, whom I met at one of the Tucson conferences on consciousness. He said that it could have been an angel. I have been touched by this observation. My own studies on quantum information has made me less materialistic and less skeptical about the oneness of existence.