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The NDE of The Man Who Fell Off Mt. Everest

Posted on 26 October 2020, 9:25

A friend recently asked me to identify the most interesting near-death experience (NDE) I have heard or read about. I told him that I couldn’t do that without considerable thought, but one that immediately came to mind and would certainly be among those at the top of the list was that of Roger Hart, (below) a retired geophysicist.  His NDE took place on May 29, 1962, at age 21, when he was part of an American team attempting to climb Mount Everest.


I had the opportunity to interview Hart in Newport, Oregon shortly after the release of his 2003 book The Phaselock Code, subtitled Through Time, Death, and Reality, the Metaphysical Adventures of the Man Who Fell off Everest.

As captain of the cross-country team at Tufts University, Hart had just won a race against Amherst when he met Woody Sayre, a Tufts philosophy professor.  The two became friends and shared an interest in rock climbing.  Some months after their first meeting, Sayre asked Hart to be part of a team that would attempt to climb Mt. Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. 

During that climb, a crampon gave way and Hart and Sayre fell about 180 feet down a snowy cliff. Hart recalled stars rushing by him like tracer bullets as he yelled and screamed. As soon as he thought that he was about to die, his soul ripped free. As described in the book, he shot off into starless space, floated free in gravity, and watched his body, as if in slow motion, tumble over the ice cliffs below. “I perched on the cusp of time, where, like a water drop between watersheds, I could choose between worlds.” 

Hart further recalled a great warmth and euphoria overtaking him and feeling wonderful that he was about to die.  “I could see in all directions at once, not with the seeing of eyes but the seeing of dreams. I felt no fear and no cold; space seemed to shrink around me, or perhaps I expanded to it. At any rate, I was no longer afraid of the emptiness below me.”  He remembers thinking, Here you are about to die and you feel wonderful – you are so weird!

Although it was thought to be impossible for humans to survive a night of sub-zero temperatures without a tent, Hart and Sayre endured the night huddled together with a nylon tent shell wrapped around them. The ledge on which they had landed was too narrow to pitch a tent.

Before the experience, Hart equated being alive with material success, having control of as many possessions as possible. “I did not believe anything unless I actually experienced it or could prove it scientifically, as with electromagnetic radiation, quantum mechanics, or relativity,” explained Hart, who was a research professor at the Oregon State College school of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences before his retirement. The fall, even though it took only a few seconds as we know it, changed Hart’s ideas in that regard, convincing him that there is life after death and that spiritual intelligence guides the universe. “Before the NDE on Everest, I was a rationalist, reductive materialist and skeptic. I believed matter was the basis of life and by reducing matter to its smallest components we could understand the universe according to predetermined laws of physics.”

His graduate studies at Yale became meaningless to him and he was appalled by the greed and ambition of his fellow graduate students.  However, two of his Yale classes – quantum mechanics and statistical thermodynamics – helped him understand the experience. The pioneering NDE research of Drs. Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross had not yet taken place and therefore Hart could not make any sense out of the experience. It stayed with him and “grew like a sprouting seed in my psyche.” 

Since my interview with Hart was more than 40 years after his experience, I asked him how much detail he actually remembered. “I have strong memories of the mental aspects,” he responded. “In addition, since the feeling during the NDE was so extraordinary, I’ve meditated on it, relived it so to speak, over the course of the past 40 years.” He added that beginning with Moody’s Life After Life, he’s been able to compare his experience with those of others. “There are some similarities but many differences. I felt elation, time dilation, and separation of mind from body, but I don’t recall going through a tunnel, doing a life review, or meeting with loved ones in the afterlife. I think the important thing in my case was that I abandoned the normal internal dialogue and much of the normal information processing. That allowed, momentarily, a reality free of time and interconnected with other parts of the universe, full of light with an extraordinary feeling of bliss. I believe the NDE opened new neural pathways and enabled access to a higher mind function with connections to the universal field of information.”

A second NDE while on a National Geographic sponsored expedition to the Darwin Icecap in Tierra del Fuego during 1966 added to his search for meaning and truth. Caught in a blizzard and in a state of starvation, Hart lost consciousness and found another part of himself viewing the scene below as if through a telescope from another universe. He became “sure, focused, calm, and remote” from his surroundings.

The Phaselock Code, as Hart defines it, is the field of hidden information in the fabric of reality.  Phaselock refers to the idea that the information is locked together and correlated over vast distances.  “Each of constructs our personal reality using a small part of the information from the phaselock code,” he explained his view of it. “The construction process is subconscious and most of the time we are unaware of it.  It is a matter of choosing among infinite possible interpretations.” As he further viewed it,  during an NDE and during transcendental moments the normal construction process is abandoned, allowing the experience of an expanded reality through a part of our higher mind that connects directly to the phaselock code. 

“I am not the first person to realize that the mind survives the body, or that the reality of the universe is a marvelous field of information and infinite potentials,” he mused, “or that we ourselves create time by opening static time capsules in the field of information. But I had the joy of discovering these ideas independently before I was exposed to them by others.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due in February 2021.

Next blog post:  November 9


Hart touches on something that I have long believed is critical to opening our minds to our fuller potential. He says his “internal dialogue” stopped as he fell. In my opinion we are constantly filtering and limiting our experience of reality by allowing that often unconscious dialogue to direct and define the focus of our attention. When it stops, we are more free to recognize the wider band of reality with which we are connected. That wider band of reality is probably my way of talking about what Hart is referring to with his “information matrix”.

Very interesting anecdote. Thanks for passing it along, Michael.

Eric Newhill, Sun 31 Jan, 14:28

Even more important for me than the NDErs’ loss of fear of death is the challenge faced by many to live out the remainder of their earthly lives more in accord with this and other revelations. Would not a stronger emphasis on ethical conduct in this world, both on personal and social levels—an emphasis flowing from the encounter with the next world—add credence and significance to what the departed and near-departed have been trying to tell us? While they certainly need not be, the spiritual and the ethical, as Schweitzer pointed out, can become enemies if the primary focus of spirituality is personal enlightenment and individual salvation.

Newton Finn, Tue 3 Nov, 16:41


Excellent point about the “pre-Moody” cases. I’ve always been a hard-data oriented person—-and that particular datapoint fills the bill nicely.
    Incidentally, the case that I spoke of above, was the single incident that originally got me off onto this line of research (although obviously, it’s branched out far more widely than NDE’s)—-

Don Porteous, Mon 2 Nov, 18:57

Amos & Chris,

Thank you for the very interesting links. I hope others who view this blog will check them out.

And, Don, I agree that “never being afraid again” seems to be a fairly common reaction by NDErs. Of course, the skeptics see it all as oxygen deprivation and a will to believe, etc. They say that people have been preconditioned to say such things by reading about NDEs.  It is one reason why I am collecting pre-Moody NDEs and if I live long enough may one day put them all together in a book. It is highly unlikely that those early experiencers were influenced by reading about NDEs

Michael Tymn, Mon 2 Nov, 07:38

Great blog! What do you think about the amazing following NDE of Sandi T?

DeCat Chris (Belgium), Sun 1 Nov, 12:22

A number of years ago, while speaking with the mother of a friend of mine, she told me of an NDE she had personally experienced during a difficult surgical procedure. Whatever the other details, the one overriding effect it had on her was that, as she put it, “I’ll never be afraid of ANYTHING in this life again.” The “other side” had become a tangible reality for her, and anything that “this side” could throw at her no longer held any terrors. This seems to be a fairly common reaction…

Don Porteous, Fri 30 Oct, 21:39

I believe that NDEs provide some of the best subjective evidence of the consciousness experiencing alternate realities.  If one can hear them recounted directly from the person who experienced them so much the better.  And, if one can hear and see them telling of their experiences it is still better since one can get a sense of the emotional intensity the experience has had on the person who had an NDE.

I have been mesmerized with the German website “Empirische Jenseitsforschung” with its multitude of first-person accounts of near death experiences and convinced by them that all is not as it seems on earth; that there really is an alternate reality into which some people, at least have entered.  These NDE stories provide outstanding first-hand evidence in my opinion of other realities one may experience after death.

The site is well done and in high definition.  If one will only take the time to pull up and listen to the videos—-at least 10 or 20 of them,—-one will see that there is a over-riding similarity in the experiences of all of them.  Their impact can be overwhelming for any people who are not yet convinced of life after death.

They were recorded in German but more and more of them are being translated into English.  If the English translation does not automatically appear, one will have to go to the settings icon in the bottom right hand corner of the YouTube screen and click on it to see if there is an English translation to click on.  If there is, click on that to see the translation.  Do not use the auto-generated translation as it does not accurately translate the German language into English.

Here are two of the most recent NDEs.

I strongly encourage those who are interested in evidence of life after death to look at this site.  Look at all of the videos if you have the time.  I believe that any hard-nosed skeptic would at least question his or her skepticism after seeing these NDE stories.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 30 Oct, 17:15

Riohard, many thanks for sharing your interesting experience and to others for the comments so far.

Michael Tymn, Tue 27 Oct, 22:23

The description of Hart’s second NDE,

“Hart lost consciousness and found another part of himself viewing the scene below as if through a telescope from another universe. He became “sure, focused, calm, and remote” from his surroundings.”

reminds me of the well-known passage from the Mundaka Upanishad [3.1.1] (tr. Patrick Olivelle):

Two birds, companions and friends,
nestle on the very same tree.
One of them eats a tasty fig;
the other, not eating, looks on.

In Hindu terminology, Hart found himself in the position of the witnessing Atman, or Self, rather than the jiva, or embodied ego.  In Platonic terminology, he found himself in the higher phase of soul, rather than the lower.  It is a excellent example of how these are not merely ancient conceptions, but pointers to living possibilities within us here and now.

Paul, Tue 27 Oct, 04:02

Another Everest story can be seen at my blog of May 6, 2013 in the archives at left (scroll below the interview with Victor and Wendy Zammit, although you might want to read or reread that interview). 

To answer C. H. Mayo’s question about static time, it is beyond me and probably beyond most people to grasp that, although I think I experienced something akin to that under the influence of nitrous oxide while undergoing dental surgery.  I’m not sure it is the same thing.

Concerning Bart’s comment, an interesting book is “The Third Man Factor” by John Geiger. It has 13 different stories about people lost in the wilderness but being guided by unseen entities of some kind.

Thanks to RC for sharing the experience.

Michael Tymn, Mon 26 Oct, 23:41

Excellent post Michael, I hadn’t heard of Roger Hart before.

Kim Parker, Mon 26 Oct, 23:34

It is very helpful to read such descriptions of people having been in altered states of consciousness. “(The experience) grew like a sprouting seed in my psyche”, is well put. One is not the same after an NDE, also this is clearly said by Roger Hart.

Thank you for this fascinating post.

Gaby Kessler, Mon 26 Oct, 22:39

During the 1960s on the coast of San Diego (area), I had a “near drowning” experience with a date that evening. Standing on the water’s edge, suddenly a huge wave came up and next thing I knew, way out off the land and IN the ocean! Still holding onto the woman. First I released her, then the water sucked me down! Strangely, i lay as if caccooned and very warm and comfortable. Then a voice told me to relax, and I did. And, I DID NOT NEED TO BREATHE! I don’t know how long I rested that way until suddenly the water shot me back up and it was freezing cold! Not a good swimmer, I swam like crazy to a black slippery rock and clawed my way up! Then I looked for her. Suddenly she was washed up to the rock’s edge. With one hand, I pulled her up and out as if she was a carrot! I had power! I gathered her in my arms (a fat girl) and Tarzaned her to shore! Such power, then carried her way up to the top where the car was park. She was babbling to her “Mother Ocean” when I PUT her in the car like the weight of a doll. We went to her place, showered and drank hot buttered rums. At my apt in the morning, I hurt every place there was to hurt, and my feet were all cut up. I called a friend, an ex policeman, and he said, “You were in SHOCK, you damn fool!” I guess I momentarily was in some type of altered state of consciousness… Near Death? xperience? and remained in an altered state of consciousness until back in my car. Seemed as if I’d returned to “normal” but maybe not until after a night’s sleep. I’ve written about the experience several times in books I wrote and published on Amazon. Look them up! 20. Several types.

Richard VanDerVoort, Mon 26 Oct, 21:12

It all sounds very similar to what Michael Talbot wrote about in his book The Holographic Universe.  Everything is written on the original holographic film that our universe is projected from, and after we die our soul simply transitions to that holographic film, which is the place we call “heaven.”  The physics of heaven is very different from the place we are now.  The physics of heaven is the physics of holographic film.  The Universe as a Hologram,

Art, Mon 26 Oct, 20:20

Long before what I call my “Primary Experience” at 34 years old (an ADC with my grandfather during a time when I was an agnostic and wished for annihilation at death), when I was 12 I had a fear-induced spontaneous OBE while falling off a horse:

The saddle strap broke and the whole saddle started to slip off to the right.  When I got to about 45 degrees, suddenly I’m about 30 feet away, laterally to the right, watching my body fall off in slow motion.  (One weird detail I remember is that there seemed to be what I later learned to be a circular mandala-type pattern superimposed over the upper-left corner of the scene I was watching.)  Just before my body hit the ground, I suddenly felt like I was a pinpoint of consciousness inside a pitch-black metal “sphere”.  I remember being completely calm and a little curious about why I couldn’t see anything any more and, “What is this sphere I’m in?”  I then apparently hit the ground, rolled, and popped up - without a bump or bruise or scratch.

I never told anyone about that experience, not even my family, and never knew what to make of it until about 30 years later (in my early 40s) when I started reading William Buhlman.  My 12 year old mind just filed it away as something “weird” and never paid much attention to it - not even years later when I became that agnostic/atheist.  It wasn’t until I started reading about the experiences of mountain climbers like Hart that I went, “Hmmm…  Is *that* what that experience was…??”

RC, Mon 26 Oct, 18:03

Hi Mike, What a fascinating post. Re: “static time capsules in the field of information”—could you explain?

C.M. Mayo, Mon 26 Oct, 17:12

Aloha Mike. NDEs of this kind are not uncommon among mountaineers. Swiss and German climbing journals have sometimes documented such experiences going back to the 1800s. Heim, A. (1891). Notizen uber den Tod durch Absturtz. Jahrbuch des schweizer. Alpenclub 27, 327–337.

Bart Walton, Mon 26 Oct, 14:44

What a fascinating post Michael. I was aware of Roger Hart’s experience but not of the extraordinary details. Thanks so much.

Wendy Zammit, Mon 26 Oct, 11:39

Yes, the acid test of a genuine experience..

You can recall every detail for the rest of your life.

Tricia, Mon 26 Oct, 11:16

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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