RPU Climber in freak accident

  • Yeah, me.

    Since I'm too old to do anything real, I go to the gym regularly to hang out with friends and pretend I'm still the real deal.

    Well, until three days ago, when, halfway up some moderately difficult toprope route, I stepped right and...

    ...and my belayer pulled out a gun and shot me in the calf. At least that's what it felt like as my calf muscle tore.

    My doc confirmed yesterday that yes, I'd torn the muscle. Fortunately, lab work on my blood showed no sign of clot formation, but damn... Not only will I be hobbling in serious pain for probably a month or so while it heals, but there was nothing I did to deserve this.

    I've broken half the bones in my body. Mostly flying off my bike, but at least once while climbing. Maybe I wasn't pushing it past the red line each time, but at least when I look back I can say yeah, that accident was a result of something I did (or shouldn't have done).

    But this time? No. I wasn't even weighting my foot. Just in the process of placing it on a hold out to the right. My belayer swears I hadn't even placed the foot on the hold, that I was just moving it across. I think I'd actually touched it to the next hold, but I know for sure I hadn't stepped up on it.

    So, beware the Ides of January. Or whatever. Cuz the gods can reach down and kick the shit out of you for no reason whatsoever.

  • Bummer! 😞

  • Well darn! I see a clear moral or two here.

    1. Strange schist happens when you age.
    2. Climbing gyms are dangerous.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  • one of the things I worry about as I get older is some kind of medical thing happening while soloing...

  • Sounds like a manufacturers defect. Ball up your fist, shake at the sky and curse the bastard!

  • @NickG said in RPU Climber in freak accident:

    one of the things I worry about as I get older is some kind of medical thing happening while soloing...

    Yes! Something to worry about, but with any luck, that accident will kill you immediately, with no overt suffering on your part.

  • @FritzRay What Ray said.

    Sure, some freak medical thing could spasm you off into space and you would die. So? Would you rather sit on the couch for the next however many years? And if you did, would there not just as likely be some freak medical event that pitched you off the couch and into the grave? Or into a wheelchair?

    Yes, there will come a time when you can no longer trust your body enough to climb solo, and, when that time comes, you can tie back into the rope. And then that, too, will come to its end. But, when it does, if you are a decent human, there will still be friends willing to take the sharp end for you and give you as many more days on ice and rock as you desire.

  • Gettin' old is a beotch and not for the faint of heart. Best wishes for your recovery.

  • one of the things that can happen to us older folks is tendons popping for no apparent reason.. My chalk bag is a full strength 5mm cord in part because if something funny happened cragging and my knee just stopped working or my achilies popped someone could toss me a rope with a biner and I could clip in..

  • @NickG said in RPU Climber in freak accident:

    My chalk bag is a full strength 5mm cord in part because if something funny happened cragging and my knee just stopped working or my achilies popped someone could toss me a rope with a biner and I could clip in.

    Which brings to mind a couple of things. First, if it is an arm that has stopped working rather than a knee, what do you do if someone tosses down that rope, but it doesn't have a biner knotted to the end? Answer: learn to tie a bowline around your waist with one hand. Super easy to do, but I would bet that not one climber in ten thousand knows how to do it.

    Second, you reminded me of my first ice climb. Shannon Falls. A 400 meter waterfall that pours down the gully at the south end of the Squamish Chief. It probably only freezes once a decade or so, but when it does, it offers pitch after pitch of low angle ice. Steep enough that you really do want two tools, but not steep enough to worry anyone who arrived at the base on two feet rather than in a wheelchair.

    Perfect intro to ice. And we jumped on it when it froze in (I think) 1976. We were hardly the only ones, but everybody seemed to be having fun. Especially the guy who passed us going solo. We knew him. An ice rookie just like us. And we understood that the difficulty was such that we probably could have soloed it if we had to.

    But not the way he was doing it. No harness, no third tool... and no way to survive if anything went wrong.

  • @David-Harris And OMG the bowling ball effect if he flossed everyone else out of the gully... Shoestring early season a few years ago. 6 soloists ( mostly NC guides and me tagging along behind them.) All of us having to pass a roped party that was probably pretty worked due to not enough ice for good belays etc. this rig has at least 800ft of climbing . I have never pitched it out but its a calf burner. It would not have been pretty if someone fell. IMG_6255.jpg
    I fired in a screw and waited for the runnel at the top to clear out.

  • Freak accident update.

    Here's something to file away for future injury reference.

    As mentioned above, I took a .45 caliber shot to the calf while half way up a toprope route in the gym. No understandable reason for it, because I wasn't even weighting my foot at that point.

    I initially thought it was a calf cramp -- they can be seriously painful -- but it soon became obvious that is was something more serious. My doc, who has an interest in sports med (he's a snowboarder and soccer player) decided it was a muscle tear -- which he said could occur spontaneously with an odd movement of the foot.

    The symptoms were in line. Serious sudden pain in the calf, followed by incredible swelling (the world's hardest rugby ball had replaced my lower leg). But the real issue was the possibility of a blood clot forming and then breaking loose and killing me. So, he sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound.

    The results of which are now in, and have delivered nothing but good news. Well, good news plus a heads up to all of you out there.

    No blood clot. No deep vein thrombosis. And, get this, no muscle tear! What the ultrasound showed was that I had suffered the rupture of a popliteal cyst (aka Baker's cyst). Something that can form when synovial fluid leaks out of the knee joint into a new sac. Normally these things are about the size of a golf ball, and quite obvious. As in: "Whoa, why is there a golf ball behind my knee?"

    But mine was not only many times bigger, but also stealthy -- a long sack, formed over who knows how long, descending from my knee down behind my shin bone. And, for whatever reason, that cyst ruptured as I was moving out toward a foothold on my right.

    The typical symptom is "sharp calf pain" followed by swelling. So, imagine the "sharp calf pain" in a scenario where the ruptured cyst is about ten times the normal size.

    Enough about me. The good news is that there was no muscle tear, and no worry about blood clots or DVT. I post this only to bring closure to my OP and to let you know that...
    ...yeah, it could be you tomorrow.

  • hopefully you are healed?

  • @David-Harris -- oh my, 😮 well, very thankful you are okay... say, GOOD you did NOT fall, too... 🙂

    wow, had never heard of that, before... 😞

  • Just be thankful your surgeon doesn't get shot in the arm when he's attending to your epiretinal membrane

    Catchy sound track that I hope my Doc wasN't listening to


    I can see for miles and miles and miles


  • @David-Harris Well, I found that out too. Life is crazy!!! I woke up on a mid-October, 2019 morning and found that my right hand and left shoulder weren't working. They continued to worsen to a 10 on the pain scale. Pain drugs didn't work. It was crazy. After 2.5 months of Pain, X-rays, MRI's and various doctors I finally found relief. Today I am Great. I love those 4 words. Who knows what tomorrow may bring but I have learned to live in and love today. Heal soon brother! Hugs from a fellow traveler. Lynne

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