I was guiding in New Zealand. We’re set up and I see these Chamois on a cliff face 300-400 yards across the valley. My client takes the shot. The Chamois drops but gets stuck and doesn’t come down. I tell the client to stay there while I climb up to get it.

Chamois are at home in the vertical world.

I move up the cliff. It’s steeper and slicker than I expect. I can’t go directly to the Chamois because it’s on an outpitch, so I have to climb around and over it, then drop down. I’m above when I see that the Chamois is stuck on this rock that’s pulled away from the cliff, and I gotta jump to get to it.

The clouds begin to clear, revealing formidable cliffs.

I can’t descend the way I came up. I’ve got to climb and find another way down. Can’t climb with the Chamois, so I pitch it off the edge and it just free falls. I realize how high I am and start shaking uncontrollably. But I have this mindset to never leave meat or waste an animal. So I suck it up and start climbing. 

Only way to go is up.

I finally get to a ridge that plateaus out, and find a route down to the Chamois. I put it on my back and carry it to the client. I thought she’d be excited, but she’s in tears. She thought I was gonna die. She starts slapping me and shouting, “Never do that again!”

Must’ve slapped some sense into me, because I realize one slip would have been my death. And though I’ve been in other dicey situations, I haven’t done anything like it since.

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