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Posts Tagged ‘Falling’

Petzl Helmet Giveaway: Comment to Win!

October 10, 2011 65 comments

I never used to wear a helmet rock climbing. I usually climb at the Red River Gorge, and many people that climb there don’t. My thought was if there was if there was a lot of overhang on the route, or when I start leading trad, then I would. But then something happened that changed my mind.

I took a trip out to Lander WY to climb at Wild Iris and The Sinks Canyon. It was my first time climbing out there and the varieties of rock amazed me. We were at Wild Iris, warming up on a 5.7. Warming up, I may not be the most skilled climber, but I have onsited, on lead, 5.9s and flashed 5.10s on top-rope outside. This was supposed to get my blood flowing.

Well, it certainly did that.

I took an unexpected fall at the second bolt. It scared the hell out of me, my belayer, and my kids, who were watching. Luckily I was fine, scraped my arms and legs up a bit (and it doesn’t appear that my kids are scarred for life.) Yet, it could’ve been much worse. After that, I picked up a helmet I had with me all along (for my kids) and proceeded to send, on lead, the 5.8 route next to the 5.7 just fine.

The moral?

You just don’t know.  I mean seriously, I displaced my ankle in 5 places coming off of a V1 bouldering problem in the gym. I didn’t slip, or fall. I jumped down, landed just fine, but my ankle buckled from underneath me. Things happen, why take the risk?

What is your opinion and experience with climbing with helmets? Do you wear one or not? Leave a comment below stating why and the awesome peeps at PEMBAserves will enter you into a drawing to win either a Petzl Elio or Elia helmet.  (And, if you already entered last week with Cragmama, you are still eligible to win this week!) The drawing will be Friday, October 14, 2011.

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An unexpected pause

August 25, 2011 9 comments

An unexpected pause, it is different than a pregnant pause.  Or maybe it isn’t in this case.

I recently dislocated my ankle in five places.  It was not broken, thankfully (I attribute that to my diligent consumption of calcium) but it was so badly dislocated after resetting it the doctor had to place metal screws and pins to keep it from shifting back.  I am now on crutches, cannot put any weight on it, and have to keep it elevated for about six weeks.  After that I will have to wear a cast.

The strangest thing to me is how it happened.  I was bouldering, which I am not very good at, and don’t often do.  However, I was climbing pretty good that day.  I was one move away from sending it.  It was a move where I was horizontal to the ground and had to reach back for the last move.  I didn’t think I could do it, so I decided to jump down and try again in a few minutes.  I jumped down, and landed perfectly on my feet, my knees slightly bending to absorb the shock, when suddenly, in my head I felt searing pain and felt my ankle buckle under in a really not-natural kind of way.  I then dropped to the floor and then sat up.  My friends asked if I was ok and very quietly I said no, that I wasn’t ok and I was pretty sure I needed to go to the hospital.

My boyfriend sat behind me while preparations were being made to transport me there.  For a minute, the pain was so bad I didn’t know how I would cope, I thought I might pass out.  But I didn’t.  I didn’ t scream, I didn’t cry, I didn’t get bossy or mean.  In crisis I tend to get really focused and calm.

As soon as we got to the hospital the attendant that helped wheel me in told the nurses at the receiving desk we needed a room right away; that there wasn’t time to admit me.  The bone had not poked through my skin, but it was wanting to something fierce.  The skin above it was white and transparent.

After taking some x-rays the team of doctors decided to put me under anesthesia and do the procedure right away even though I hadn’t been fasting.

So fast forward to me, here, on my living room couch, living as an invalid for the next few weeks.

But the whole thing is so weird to me because it was such a random thing.  I honestly, 100%, think my descent was spot on.  So was my landing, yet my ankle says Fail.  Another weird thing that happened the same day, was a person I had been dying to do a guest post for emailed that day and asked me if I was interested.  Yes please! I can’t help but think this is the calm before some storm.  Like the universe is forcing me to relax because change is in the wind and it’s gonna get crazy.  I feel like everything I have been working toward is culminating.

I don’t know, maybe it is just me that is crazy (probably).  All that I know is that I am maximizing every minute I have off of work to write, read, goal-set, visualize and connect.

Falling

June 16, 2011 4 comments

A few weeks ago I went to West Virginia to rock climb, but instead spent the day falling.  On purpose.  I went to the New River Rendezvous Climber’s Festival and took a clinic with author/climbing guide Arno Ilgner.  For those unfamiliar, he wrote two books on mental training and climbing, The Rock Warrior’s Way and Espresso Lessons.  He links the mindfulness of climbing to the work of earlier authors and mystic like Carlos Castaneda and Dan Millman.

The clinic was incredibly eyeopening for me.  Ever since my whipper outside, I thought I was pretty comfortable with falling.  Arno asked us in the beginning of the clinic what we hoped to gain with this clinic and we had any fear.  I brazenly said I wasn’t really afraid, I just wanted to learn proper technique and learn the “right way” to fall.  Yet, I also know I am less willing to go for it when there are consequences (not on top-rope).  Arno told us several things to work on while falling.  We should take three breaths and on the third exhale, fall while breathing out, relax our arms and legs, look down and quietly let our feet brace the rock face.

After the first fall, I was shocked.  I actually grabbed for the rope.  I never knew I did that.  I was completely unaware. This told me I was more afraid than I thought; your body doesn’t lie.  It took me several tries to break this habit before I could successfully implement the other steps.  The point of practicing is that you will create new habits so when you do fall unexpectedly, your body will remember what to do.

I definitely recommend this clinic to all climbers.  Arno is quiet and gentle in his teaching, which is very effective in rock climbing.  The mindfulness needed in climbing is one of my favorite aspects of climbing, which is why I love Arno’s work.  It was such an honor to meet, climb and learn from him.

Always do safety checks

Well dear readers, it’s time to ‘fess up and swallow my pride.  Again.  I often joke with my friends that my knack for having  if-something-could-go-wrong-will-go-wrong life experiences certainly gives me plenty to write about.  No, there are not too many dull moments around here.

So I guess I will share my first and last experience with not double-backing my harness.  I can hear the groaning and hissing now, “Amateur”!  I know, I know.  It was stupid and my own fault, and taught me a very valuable lesson.

I was at the gym during the holiday season.  I had just arrived straight from my retail job and was feeling stressed and frazzled (anyone who ever worked in retail during the holidays can feel me on this point).  As I was getting ready I was checking my voicemail, texting, talking, blah blah blah.  I knew my head wasn’t right so I volunteered to climb last in our group of three so I could breathe, and try to get my head clear.

Damn good thing I did that.  And damn good thing I sent the climb.  I was breathing, focusing and present in the moment.  When I finished and sat back to be lowered down, I knew immediately something was wrong with my harness.  I looked at it and saw the webbing that feeds through the buckle around my waist was loosening itself and breaking away.  I quickly grabbed the webbing and my figure-eight knot and pulled hard.  I could see I secured myself so I held on as I was being lowered.  I never screamed or panicked, just calmly reacted.

When my feet touched the ground I looked at my belayer and said, “Oh my God, look at this.”  She was horrified and couldn’t believe I didn’t even yell down to her.  I told her once I had it secured I knew it was fine.  It was just a damn good thing I took the time to be focused so I could catch my terrible mistake.

Since that day we are possibly overly protective about checking our knots and harnesses.  But, probably not.  Probably can’t be too safe when it comes to safety checks.