A short story of a season goneThe spring has been hectic, wonderful, beautiful and promising.
Jeff and I were working on the third ascent of Lifeline.
Its a beautiful line gracing the Alpinist (Volume 33, 2011 page 80) when John Burcham photographed Matt, when he and I were working on its second ascent.
By late April , the first pitch still felt as crappy as expected (bizarre sandbagged 5.11d). On a late April day, I take the rope, working through the squeeze filled with guano. Placing a green camalot at the start of the tight hands I rest before casting out. The next piece of gear will be 15ft above requirng off balance climbing where yiou never feel secure, and a mistake will be an ankle breaking fall onto the ledge. A few minutes of jamming and liebacking leads to a foothold where I can stop and place gear. The climbing is steep at this point, for every three feet you ascend the route overhangs a foot.
I place the red camalot and cast off into the ringlock section. Although not hard, it still continues to sap my strength since its so overhanging. I get to the flared fingers. I miscalculate in where to place my foot and I am out of the crack. The crack is so steep that the fall is a joy.
Later that day I get to the tips section and fall again. I know it will come, I know I can get through the overhanging tips section, forming the third crux of the route with a pulling up on a pinky tip jam to place a foot where my shoulder had been. On the route the sting in the tail I still have my doubts, the 5.13b/c boulder finish after the 80ft of 5.12d/.13a climbing is a low probability section for me. I lower on my last attempt on the route for the day. I am content with what I have done. I see the promise.
Later I do a short ride on my mountain bike. The track is easy and its one I have done so many timews before. My mind wonders for a moment, I take a corner high and my handle bars hit a tree branch. The handlebars spin and in a blur I find myself falling head first into the ground. I slowly stand up. My right arm is useless, the arm is numb and the scapula is on fire. Damn, this isn't good. I walk my bike back to the car, and load it inside the back of my Subaru. Its a painful drive to the emergency room.
Getting there I text a picture of the emergency room sign, with a message oif the hope of a broken arm and not a torn rotator cuff compartment. Once in ER a neck brace is fitted. x-rays and CAT scans are taken and the wait begins.
Its been 8 days. My trip to attempt to work on free climbing the Salathe in Yosemite is delayed until fall. I am on day 3 of working out on the stationary bike, with a one hour work out. The neural pain is significant. I'll be back to Lifeline. I'll go to Salathe.; I hope to regain my strength working on routes in Zion with the aid of a 200m static line.
The season is over as I heal and get stronger, the year and the fight have only begun. The pain is significant, but with the support of a girl friend and my climbing partners, it just reminds me how lucky that I actually was. I can walk, and I know I will climb.