During one of my first rock climbing trips to mount Olympus located in Greece, we somehow lost the path to the base of the face. We were amateurs. I was together with two friends.
After many hours of struggling, with buses and heat and running out of water, we decided to descend the slope of the mountain in order to reach the base which was crossed by the Ennipeas river with crystal clear frozen waters coming down from the mountain peaks. The sound of the water was completely pulling us toward the river. When we finally reached the river, rappelling the last 25 meters, we had to swim across to get to the other side and be able to walk back to the village. Since I wasn't very good at swimming and quite scared by the whole mess we had gotten ourselves into, I asked one of my friends to help me cross it. Then it happened.
I started drowning, pulling my friend down as I tried to get to the surface for a breath. When my other friend saw what was happening he jumped into the water to help. Now I was pulling down two people in order to reach the surface. I was desperate and totally out of control. I was dying. After approximately two to three minutes of struggle for survival, which seemed like an eternity -- I had swallowed plenty of water -- I reached a point of complete relaxation. I felt warm, nice and wasn't afraid anymore. All the fear was gone but I was aware of my surroundings. My eyes were wide open. I knew I was dying but I didn't feel bad at all. I felt beautiful. I was going to the bottom of the river that at the point of the drowning was very deep. I can still remember seeing the sunlight coming through the surface and having this feeling of complete calmness. Then one of my friends pulled me from my hair out of the water. I felt no pain.
When I was finally at safety I couldn't stop crying. I was in shock. It may not have been an out of body experience or I wasn't clinically dead, but I can't forget the point where I wasn't afraid anymore and all the terror was gone. I felt beautiful and drowning is a horrible way to die, not being able to breath.
Last Updated ( Monday, 27 March 2006 08:25 )