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Observations placeholder

Smythe, Frank - A description of a fall and OBE on the Grohmannspitze in the Dolomites



Type of Spiritual Experience


Frank Smythe’s description of a fall which he had when climbing the Grohmannspitze in the Dolomites with a friend. They were roped together and the friend stepped on a rock which gave way beneath him.  His fall jerked Smythe from the ledge where he was standing and hurled him over the edge of the precipice. The rope which had not been firmly secured, fortunately jammed in a crevice of rock and they both escaped with some scratches and bruises. Describing his sensations, Smythe wrote:

A description of the experience

Frank Smythe - The Spirit of the Hills

In view of my subsequent sensations, the certainty which existed in my mind that nothing could stop me falling and that I was to be killed, is interesting and important.

Nevertheless, even though I had assumed thus early that I was as good as dead, I made desperate attempts to stop myself, as I have already described. During the time that I was doing this, a curious rigidity or tension gripped my whole mental and physical being. So great was this tension that it swamped all pain and fear, and rendered me insensible to bumps and blows. It was an overwhelming sensation, and quite outside my experience. It was as though all life's forces were in process of undergoing some fundamental evolutionary change, and the change called death, which is normally beyond imagination and outside the range of ordinary human force of power on the Grohmannspitze I felt that power which alone can separate spirit from body - death. I know now that death is not to be feared, it is a supreme experience, the climax, not the anti-climax, of life.

For how long I experienced this crescendo of power I cannot say. Time no longer existed as time; it was replaced by a sequence of events from which time as a quantity or quality in terms of human consciousness no longer existed. Then, suddenly, this feeling was superseded by a feeling of complete indifference and detachment, indifference to what happened to my body, detachment from what was happening or likely to happen to that body. I seemed to stand aside from my body. I was not falling, for the reason that I was not in a dimension where it was possible to fall. I, that is my consciousness was apart from my body, and not in the least concerned with what was befalling it.

My body was in the process of being injured, crushed and pulped, and my consciousness was not associated with these physical injuries, and was completely uninterested in them. Had the tenant already departed in anticipation of the wreck that was to follow?

Had the assumption of death - when my slide was not checked by the rope I assumed death as certain - resulted in a partial dissolution of the spiritual and physical?

Was it merely a mental effect due to a sudden and intense nervous strain? It is not within my province to discuss that which only death can prove; yet to me this experience was a convincing one; it convinced me that consciousness survives beyond the grave.*

The source of the experience

Smythe, Frank

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps