Almost two weeks ago after finishing up my solo circuit at a local crag I was scrambling down through this gully and had this easy 4th class (hands and feet scramble) traverse over to a trough when suddenly I was knocked back and off over 5th class terrain where I free fell onto a slope–resulting in about a 15-20ft ground fall. After some pretty violent tumbling down the slope I came to a skidding halt, and heard the destruction below of whatever block had fallen and hit me as it crashed and crushed through bushes and hit other boulders. I laid there for a moment trying to assess what hurt, which is pretty impossible with that much adrenaline pumping through the body. I just knew that I needed to catch my breath, and then get near people as soon as possible.

I’m taking a class this semester called “Death, Dying, and the Afterlife,” and we had to fill out this personal death profile. It like covers our experience with death through people close to us, and if we’ve come close to death. I’ve come pretty close to death a few times, and one of the questions asked what we thought about when thinking of our own death, and I just remembered during my free fall thinking, “Seriously? Like this?” Scrambling around on easy ground… It make sense though, because that’s always how I get injured. Playing around on easy ground where I’ve allowed my vigilance to ease.

Over the next two weeks was a dedicated routing of resting, icing, compressing, and icing, in 15-20 minute cycles rotating pretty much around my entire body. I was able to assess that nothing was broken, and that was just fine by me. A sprained foot, a bruised knuckle, bruised ribs, bruised tailbone, bruised hip, quad contusion, minor whiplash, minor tendentious in my right leg, and the most grotesque hematoma I’ve ever seen. But more than anything was the mental wounds. Four days of bed rest allows you to spend a lot of time upstairs contemplating shortcomings, and mistakes. I think the other game that’s hard is the part of my brain that told me that all that idle time would make me fat and weak, and this obsessive want to start training again.

I started easing back into walking on the fifth day, and it was slow going but nothing terrible. On the sixth day after the incident I started more strenuous walking, followed by a rest day. Week two began with an eight mile walk, starting at the Zoo and cruising throughout Balboa Park it was seemed it’s entirety, and returning for a second session in the evening which was about four miles. Over the week leading up to today I made small gains, and started hangboarding and doing core routines again (push ups, pull ups, leg lifts, and planks 100x50x50x3 minute plank sets). I couldn’t really get my fix, so I started going to the beach and bodysurfing with one fin on the foot that didn’t hurt. I’ve been slowly prepping myself to get back up on the horse.

I just packed up the car. All my climbing, camping gear, and food are loaded up, and I have an hour to spare and check in with myself before I leave. I met a lady in a REI Climbing Club outing a few years ago, and later that day at a Lead Climbing class at the local climbing gym. We started climbing together, and delved into multipitch climbing. We took a trip out to Yosemite and climbed Snake Dike and Cathedral Peak and some other not as notable climbs, but I always did the leading when it came to trad. She’s ready to start taking the reigns and leading routes on gear, and I’m really psyched to be getting back out to one of my favorite crags on the planet–Tahquitz.

I’ve had a lot of support from a friend who I met years ago, and have spent time with working and in recovery, and he has been calling me and checking up on me, and one morning he called me pretty early to see how I was doing. I was pretty low. He told me to relax, that mistakes happen, and they happen to everyone, but that we can’t let those incidents take away our passions–we can’t quit. He urged me to stay passionate and have faith in myself. After he hung up I just cried in gratitude. Life is a process, and the more I explore that process, the more I begin to see that it’s hardly paved in success, but as long as I believe in myself and don’t quit that it will result in success.

See you in a couple of days!

2 thoughts on “Getting Back on the Horse

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