Oh Boy, I’m Broken: Dreaming like a Demon

Mt. Robson by Killian. The Gargoyles are the ridge to the right of the summit.

Every day when I have some free time I load up mountain project and skim its slideshow for fun climbs. Or I read some cached article about some mountaineer summit and then explore the mountain range to find its treasures. I’ve found a rock climb that ends with a crawl through a tunnel behind a waterfall, a summit requiring climbing a wild knife-edge ridge like Matthess Crest topped with snow Gargoyles deep in the BC and I’ve gazed into amazing dihedrals with dreams of routes on Devil’s Tower. …and thats it. I dream of the future because in the present I’m injured.

Six weeks ago I severely damaged my shoulder on a hard ski fall onto ice. I could barely move my right arm immediately after. I heal quick and had trips planned so I rock and ice climbed on it for two weeks. It was really sore and no more healed after ice climbing and backpacking a heavy pack in Coldstream Canyon so I finally went to a doctor. I was told no over arm movements, i.e. climbing or yoga, until it healed.

Its now a five weeks later and it still shows pain. But, its not just my shoulder. I injured my right eye last Spring solo mountaineering Casaval Ridge on Mt. Shasta and my vision is again starting to slightly deteriorate in it. Finally and probably the worst. After a heavy day of climbing really pushing myself to haul my way up a 5.11 finger crack in the gym my index fingers started hurting. That was four months ago. I haven’t been able to finger lock with them since and they still hurt from sideways pressure even after these last five weeks of no climb resting…

Beautiful finger crack on last pitch of Birdland in Red Rocks. At least I could still finger lock with my middles.

This last month has been hard. One of the hardest in a while given the undetermined amount of time until I recover and which leaves me with no near term goal to work towards. Motivation has been difficult, frustration has been high and my spirits low. Every day, I think about climbing and I can feel the time ticking away. Every weekend I choose to do something in the mountains seems to add another week of recovery to my shoulder. Every week I’m not climbing I’m likely dropping a grade. …and I have no idea what to do about my fingers which could take months to heal. Last time I had an injury like this I had stress fractures in my shins and had to take over a year off running.

…but it could be worse. I could have seriously injured myself this season where I couldn’t walk or have a many certain months of long recovery ahead of me. Those injuries are not uncommon in the mountains. I am grateful nothing that serious has happened, but this is the first real time injuries have held me back from doing things I wanted to do since I can remember. Being outside is about pushing boundaries with your body and its hard to know the line. I obviously crossed it and I’m sure made some of these injuries worse by ignoring pain. So, for everyone out there who is injured and unable to do what you want. I feel yah. You aren’t alone. Keep moving in whatever ways you can, stay positive, and keep dreaming.