Ammon McNeely survives BASE jumping accident

10/29/13 - Ammon McNeely, a well-known aid climber and experienced BASE jumper who has history of trouble with law enforcement for jumping in national parks, was seriously injured in Moab, Utah, after his chute didn't open properly and he slammed into a cliff face. McNeely had just had the brake line in his rig repaired and was going to try a new exit (where a jumper leaps from) with Andy Lewis and some friends when the accident occurred. With more than 1,000 jumps under his belt, McNeely is an accomplished and competent BASE jumper who understands the risks involved.

McNeely describes the ordeal on SuperTopo:

"We were with one other jumper who was new, and I voted that Andy goes first, the two new guys go in the middle, and I go last. They had perfect exits, great openings with no wind. I jumped, probably took a tad longer delay than I should have, being it was a new exit with new brake lines, and immediately had a 180-degree opening. [Editor's Note: This is a highly feared situation for a BASE jumper, where the chute opens facing the cliff, giving the jumper little to no time to steer away from it.] I struck the cliff with my left foot and continued rag dolling down the cliff where I finally came to rest on a sloping ledge. I knew I was banged up, but to my utter surprise my foot was flipped on its side looking very similar to a Nalgene bottle with just a sliver of skin keeping it on."

McNeely used part of his BASE rig to create a tourniquet on his leg, which was "squirting everywhere." He called to his friends that he needed a helicopter rescue because he might bleed out. His friend Dave, who is an EMT, Brent, Andy, and some Moab locals reached him on the ledge about 45 minutes later where they drilled a three-bolt anchor and fixed lines before search and rescue arrived. McNeely credits this fast action and quick-thinking for saving his life. He had lost three pints of blood by the time the helicopter delivered him to the hospital.

"I was absolutely prepared to wake up the next morning, minus a foot," he says in the SuperTopo thread. "I joked about going full pirate mode with a peg leg, but knew it could be a reality and was very said about it. Somehow, they saved it." McNeely is not completely past the possibility of losing his foot and leg, as there's still a threat of infection, but he is alive.

McNeely sums it up poignantly, "So, the question is; Do we stand up and take the risks and have a blast enjoying our passions? Or, do we hide in the shadows, being afraid of what might happen if we are so bold to follow our dreams?"




Previous Comments

hi may name is eli belokopitov i had the same exident 10/2/2013 i would like to have the email adress of ammon mcneely .

eli belokopitov - 11/16/2013 4:53:37

Matt, of course it's pertinent to a CLIMBING magazine when a CLIMBER is injured, regardless of how it happened. Just like ESPN will report off-field incidents about famous athletes. It's relative to the sport and its participants when one of its pioneers is almost killed and taken out of the game, at least for the near future. Your self aggrandizing and pedantic rambles have only revealed how little you know about journalism.

Brian - 11/07/2013 4:06:40

Yes. Ammon is a dead beat dad. Living the dream but who does he have when he doesn't climb anymore? And we all know he isn't paying the bill. Tax payers are. Personally I think seeing your children everyday is living the dream

jop - 11/03/2013 9:23:42

Matt is a straight douche-sicle. Dude should find a real hobby cause he obviously sucks at posing as a climber. Ammon is such an incredible guy. Here's to a speedy recovery.

Brad - 11/02/2013 1:41:50

How pimp is tying off your own tourniquet when your foot gets lobbed off? That's almost as impressive as that movie 128hours(or however many it was...) I would have screamed like a little bitch and bled out.

shaun - 11/02/2013 12:58:32

Ammon is living his dreams, but is a dead beat dad who has never paid his own way, I wonder who is picking up the tab for his medical expenses?

Cat - 11/01/2013 9:28:30

How is bouldering not a form of climbing Hisenburg?! Sorry I know super off topic but he said it and I hate how people write off bouldering... Heal up Ammon!

taylor - 10/31/2013 4:52:48

Hey,buddy.Glad you are still with us and have your sense of humor and style intact.Thanks for always being a good friend with a kind heart!Oooooow!!!

stanford - 10/31/2013 1:48:46

Matt's the biggest tool in the tool box. 25 years of watching others live their dreams while he sits at home being a tool. Anyone who has to pound on their chest about "25 years I've done blah blah blah....." is a joke. Small Mans Complex.

Heisenberg - 10/30/2013 9:29:31

2nded Alex... Matt is a tool... By Matt's standard, no one who dies after summiting K2 should be covered, as they are simple hikers getting back down to base camp. Well, some people would rather fly down than walk. I'd theorize that a capable jumper would be safer parachuting down K2 than a capable climber would be walking.

Craig - 10/30/2013 4:23:11

Matt you are a huge tool.

alex b - 10/30/2013 3:15:47

Not a troll - 25 years in the game with an impressive world-wide resume on trad, sport, boulder and, yes, i have climbed aid a few times before when i was younger. let me reiterate, "i just believe that stupid (underlined and bold), non-climbing actions resulting in serious injury shouldn't be reported on a climbing site." Period. that is my point. it's nothing personal. my mistake in writing zion instead of moab - i read it quickly.

matt - 10/30/2013 1:10:54

I hope the best for Ammon as he is someone who inspired myself and my climbing partner to take on the walls in Yosemite Valley for the first time over six years ago. The last sentence that he put in the article says so much for the attitude of any type of adventurer. "Do we stand up and take the risks and have a blast enjoying our passions? Or, do we hide in the shadows, being afraid of what might happen if we are so bold to follow our dreams?" Being outdoors is something different for all of us. No matter if it is Base Jumping, Bouldering, Sport climbing, trad, big wall. Just feel lucky that you get to be out there enjoying it in your way. Be respectful and enjoy what we have available to us. Not everyone is as lucky as we are!

Dustin E. - 10/30/2013 10:39:06

i wish Ammon the best recovery possible. i remember coming off of my first el cap route and my buddy introduced me to ammon. He was more psyched than i was that my first aid lead ever was swinging leads up el cap. i don't think he even mentioned that he was soloing an a5 while we were on the wall and almost died (i put it together later). ammon is one of the few "pros" in any sport that made me feel good about myself, instead of just someone who was lucky to be basking in their glory. i hope that ammon gets to summit many more walls and jump off the top, or just go for a walk with his mom. GOOD LUCK AMMON!

ng - 10/30/2013 10:25:06

"Full pirate mode with a peg leg," what a great sense of humor considering what could have turned into a really bad situation. Quick thinking too, really a testament to his skills and abilities. I do not know Ammon personally, just beyond some climbing vids. But you sir are a BAD A$% MO-FO with nerves of steel... I agree, in a lot of ways some of the aid routes this guy has done puts him on a different level then us "mere mortals!" I remember peeing my pants and crying like a little boy on A0.. It blows my mind that guys like this do A4,A5... Hope I get to meet this guy someday, seems like a super cool, unpretentious, and humbled climber. Which is more than I could ever say for some of the d-bags on this thread.

The Rain Maker - 10/30/2013 10:06:30

I think matt is just a troll and you are giving him what he wants by responding to him. Plus, sport climbing is neither and bouldering is not climbing!

Hisenburg - 10/30/2013 9:33:56

Insane footage! :) Nothing can stop a guy like Ammon, thumbs up for him and those who enjoy the real feeling of freedom! See you back on the rocks very soon my man!

Marco - 10/30/2013 4:48:41

Big ups to Ammon for living the dream and understanding the consequences...Hope you heal fully and quickly

holland - 10/29/2013 9:12:01

Matt, I am a climber and I don't give a toss how many 9a's someone did. I am sick of hearing about it. What I do care about is how one of the great climbers of our time (yes they exist outside of the gym and Spain), has had a close call. Ammon McNeely eats gym climbers for breakfast. You tosser. Get on A5 before you get to call Ammon an idiot. Actually, get on A0 first.

Adam - 10/29/2013 7:42:13

Wow Matt. Nice responses there. You obviously know nothing about the man or what he has done for climbing and climbers alike. I feel sorry for you, because Ammon is a friend and I feel lucky to know him. He's always been there when I have questions or just need a recharge on the good climbing vibes. He is one of the last true hard men. Too bad you can't see the value in that. And you obviously have no idea what "climbing community" means. Come to the inside, life is a lot better here then spraying around the outside. I have to wonder, being as you're so concerned about what an "idiot" Ammon is, what your climbing resume looks like. I'm sure it doesn't hold a candle to anything he has done, meet the man and you'd sing a way different tune.

Travis - 10/29/2013 5:36:24

Idiot? Zion? Matt, get out much? Last time I checked, oh and I live in Zion, MOAB is 5 hours away. Maybe you were recalling how Ammon McNeely is the first to have climbed all three routes on The Streaked Wall in Zion National Park, ascending all three routes with a First One Day Ascent? Get over yourself and drop the negativity. Scott you said it beautifully. Ammon I wish you a speedy recovery.

JZ - 10/29/2013 5:31:41

heres hoping his foot doesnt stop him climbing

luke - 10/29/2013 5:21:45

Matt, by using the word "idiot" and making it personal instead of sticking to an argument that might or might not have been valid you completely lost me on your first post. "stupid activity" says who? cheers Luc

Luc - 10/29/2013 4:08:36

Settle down Matt and quit crying. Ammon is a big wall climber who is doing what he does best. He has a passion for outdoor pursuits of all styles. Chill out. Go out and do something productive instead of complaining.

D - 10/29/2013 4:01:23

Hey Matt, you better check yo'self right. Show some respect, Ammon is one of the greatest climbers in the world, that dude is a legend. He is in some ways even more badass than Sharma or Ondra, hell even his nick name is badass: 'El Cap Pirate'. He might not redpoint 5.15, but he has done some serious climbing stuff, stuff that you wussy wouldn't even dare of thinking. Easy for you to ask for V13 flashes and 5.15s, that stuff is a walk in the park compared to what Ammon does on a daily basis. He holds the most speed records and first one day ascents in Yosemite, and the dude kept himself alive after loosing 3 pints of blood and joked about loosing his leg; that's right you sit straight when reading about a real man. I wonder what you gympunk would do in a situation like that.

Santiago - 10/29/2013 4:00:10

It's posted on this site because Ammon McNeely is a very well known and accomplished climber and, like Scott stated earlier, the climbing community is a big family. Read any recent book about Aid Climbing or Yosemite big walls and you're bound to run into at least one picture of Ammon. If Chris Sharma died in a car accident would you expect all of the climbing publications and websites to report on it? I sure as hell would. Climbing news isn't just about what happens on the rock, it's about what happens with everything that encompasses our lifestyle... Especially the people that make climbing what it is today. I for one am thankful for and SuperTopo for sharing this kind of information.

Jared Wicks - 10/29/2013 3:25:46

@ Dave - he was seriously injured doing a non-climbing, stupid activity. Would Climbing report on every climber who had a motorcycle accident. Would High Times report a V15 or 5.15? It's as relevant as climbers base jumping. And yes, a couple more 9a's in A SINGLE DAY is news. one more is nothing new, three in a few hours is news. it's not that i'm mad, i just believe that stupid (underlined and bold), non-climbing actions resulting in serious injury shouldn't be reported on a climbing site - kinda the way (and i can't believe i'm about to give Jen's credit) 8a doesn't report on solo ascents. are we desperately trying to hold onto that "extreme sport" label from the 90's?

Matt - 10/29/2013 2:49:23

The climbing community is just that; a community. The friendships and relationships we forge within the context of climbing extend far beyond that minuscule realm. Coming together to support one another in our times of need is and has been a key feature to the unique bonds we share as climbers. We are none of us defined simply by our climbing pursuits. Ammon is a friend, partner, pioneer and visionary.

Scott - 10/29/2013 1:51:49

Matt y u so mad? Well known climber gets seriously injured = news. Ondra climbing a few more 9a's isn't really news, nobody is even surprised by it anymore. Nobody forced you to read it.

Dave - 10/29/2013 1:45:29

This dude is a big wall legend. And it happened in Moab, many hours from Zion. Get well Ammon!

Mike S - 10/29/2013 1:39:56

why is this reported on a climbing site? because it's in Zion? If that's the case, you should begin reporting twisted ankles from tourists. don't base jumpers have their own websites to spray about their idiotic exploits?? Didn't AO CLIMB three 14d's yesterday? JWebb flash a V13? you know... climbing sh*t. it's sightly more relevant to the title of your publication than some idiot jumping off a rock.

Matt - 10/29/2013 1:31:45