Saturday, June 28, 2008

Balancing out the injuries

After a great spring of getting back in shape with a couple of short trips to the best granite sport climbing anywhere, Shagg Crag in western Maine,(here is my friend "the Back" crushing a classic 5.12 at Shagg) and a slightly longer trip down to the New River Gorge with Ian and Dean for the Rendezvous I was feeling pretty good.  My first objective was to take care of a project that I had come agonizingly close on last year, it is a link up at Rumney that goes all the way up China Beach then across the wall via a swinging horizontal three points off dyno and then into the last (and hardest) crux of Livin Astro, no one had done it and although it is a link up it combines the some of the coolest climbing anywhere into the longest most continuous route at Rumney.  

In order to stay psyched on this thing I also dabbled on a few other projects in Vermont that are on this years tick list.  The weather this spring was especially good and after a few days of perfect conditions at Rumney I hit a new high point three moves from the anchor.  I was super psyched on having come that close and felt confident it would go down soon.  Unfortunately nothing stops your momentum like a freaking 50 acre forest fire engulfing your crag the very 
next day.  Yes, too much good weather does have its draw backs, ie: a super low dew point with one persons carelessness and poof Rumney's on fire and closed for who knows how long.  Then the weather forecast calls for a pattern change and 90 degree temps,  needless to say I was cruxin out.  We didn't know if the cliffs were going to be damaged or if they might try to shut the whole area for the rest of the summer.   So I decided to have a go at the direct finish to a 5.13 in Vt called Steppin Razor.  A couple too many tries on this thing  and surprise I had a bloodied split tip.  Then to make things worse, the next day we got word that Rumney was open again.  There is a super sharp hold on the linkup at Rumney which had split the very same tip in the past so there was no chance of giving it another go until my tip healed.  I spent a hot schmarmy week climbing with tape on my tip during the day and filing it down at night trying to get an even layer of skin which might not rip open again.  The following week I went back to Rumney and on my first go I got up to the shake out before the final crux, looked at my tip and saw a fresh pink split just starting 
to ooze crimson,  quickly I chalked it up and went for the stopper mono stack swing move out to the arete that had slapped me off so many times before...and this time... I got slapped off again.  NOT PSYCHED.  
I rested more, soaked my finger in hot salt water, lathered it in salve, climbed with tape on and waited.  June was dwindling away and the heat of summer was coming and I didn't have much time.  A week later I was back and to end this long drawn out story, I sent it,  the hardest sport route I've done and given the amount of days I put into both the original China Beach and Livin Astro, this was by far the longest amount of time I'd given to a rock climb.  Besides Vasya's Jaws II, this thing, ' The China Glide' is the hardest route at Rumney.  Here is a photo from near the top of China Beach.
I have had two weird things happen to me over and over in my climbing career.  Both are bad.  One... I seem to have a knack for hurting myself just before climbing trips and either not being able to go or still going and having it screw up my plans.  Two...I seem to have a knack for balancing my,  a blown pulley in my left ring finger means its only a matter of time before my right ring finger goes too. family and I are leaving soon for a trip out west climbing and visiting relatives.  I was hoping that my recurring split tip was gonna qualify as my prerequisite pre trip injury.... unfortunately I wasn't so lucky.
 There is this one short bouldery 5.13d at Rumney that I said I was never gonna do.  Its called "Sinister 6000" and there are a couple of tweaky not so natural holds on it that almost pulled my tendons the one time I got on it a couple years ago.  Running out of other things to do at Rumney, and seeing my friend do it with slightly less tweaky beta I decided to give it a go the other day.  After working it out a couple of times and declaring it a pile many more times, I felt poised to send it and never have to climb on it again.  Up through the crux I went to the last hard move, felt good...latched it...reeled it in and went to bring my foot into a high backstep for an easier move to a 'can't fall of now' hold.  However there wasn't enough rope out and when I went to move the draw out of the way with my foot in order to get the backstep I was stopped short.  As soon as my brain comprehended what was happening I gasped for slack but by that point was greasing off, I got my foot on and went for the move anyway but came up short.  As I lobbed off I looked down and knew something bad was about to happen.  I was still falling and the ground was rushing up, in desperation I yelled the first thing that springs to mind when I don't know what else to say "ROCK!" A second later, just before I decked the rope started to redirect me and I accelerated forward in a sideways crouch,  slammed into a cooler sized rock with my left ass cheek and stopped dead.  
The first thing I thought was "I can't believe I just hit the ground",  the next was "ow my ass hurts", the next was "I can't believe he just dropped me" the next was, "ow my ribs and back hurt too".  After catching my breath I was somewhat relieved to see that the fourth bolt was no longer clipped and my belayed hadn't just dropped me, instead I had somehow unclipped the fourth draw with my stealthy foot work while fighting for slack to get my foot where I wanted it.  Given that the first three bolts are close together and the third has a long draw on it so you can clip from a low jug, the fourth bolt is really important.  I was glad that I didn't have to blame my belayer for dropping me and psyched that I hadn't hit my head or back.  I had basically just crunched my rib cage onto my hip bone and bruised my ass, it hurt to take a breath but I was able to walk out and the next day a doctor confirmed for me that there were no fractures, just contusions and a little blood in my urine.  The weird part is that two years ago I had given myself a similar injury when I slipped off a ledge at Rumney's main cliff and landed 15 feet into talus on my ass.  So in a way I guess I'm glad to have gotten off this easy and have my inevitable balancing injury over with.  I hope to be climbing again in a week or two.
Be thankful for your health
Peter Kamitses