Sunday, June 28

The Good, The Bad

Back from the Iris with good and bad news. I'm not one to end on a down note so lets get right to the business... I'm injured. It's not terrible- thankfully I practiced some MEGA restraint and I am already on a road to recovery. Here's the details..

On Friday we woke up to pouring rain and expansive, deeply grey skies. We decided to head to Sinks Canyon and hit the Killer Cave in search of dry rock. The cave was bone dry and the temps were awesome, meanwhile the canyon was getting dumped on- totally magical. My draws were still hanging on the short and wicked 'Organics' 14b from my day of effort last month so I figured I would give it a burn, with low expectations. I climbed really well on it first try, with forgotten beta, so naturally I rested to give it a worthy go. I ended up falling on a final move due to a simple mistake. Lowering off I was stoked, confident that my next burn would be successful, but then... some pain / aching crept into my right palm. It was pretty obvious to me that my right middle finger did not totally agree with the lengthy mono pulling. It was not long before gripping the rope to belay became difficult. Done.
Luckily, I have not experienced many injuries through my life as a climber despite my aggressive training and infrequent rest days, and thus I always tend to treat every little pain and ache with sizable respect. Maybe too much; I'm that dude who lowers off the route with a sore shoulder blabbering, 'Oh dude, THIS is it man, I'm screwed, I'm DONE, it's over for me dude'. Then I stretch out and it's gone.. But this ache in my hand is sticking around. I have talked a bit with personal trainer and therapist Chris Wall, as well as checking out some awesome advice from the man, Dave Macleod. In-fact, as I write single handily, my right hand is soaking in a pot of cold water. I also use a dish glove to keep the water from eating up my skin. I'm hopeful that in two weeks, when I'm heading back north to Lander for the Climbers Fest, I'll be all set to mono my ass off, but we'll see I guess.  

Before the sh*t hit the fan, the trip was going well. It is hard not to be inspired by the incredible landscape at Wild Iris. Snow capped peaks rest seemingly a stones through away. Before you, a giant field of wild flowers emerge in every color imaginable. White cliffs peer through a veil of swaying aspen trees.. No wonder Todd Skinner proclaimed this to be the area he had long been looking for. And it shows. He and many others established a good deal of classic routes in the Iris. Moderates like, 'The Devil Wears Spurs' 10d, or 'Wind and Rattlesnakes' 12a along with test pieces like 'Throwin the Hoolihan' 14a. The climbing at the Iris is good, maybe not amazing, but the setting makes up for it, and then some.

I had a good couple days pre-injury, cleaning up the direct lines on the Rodeo Wave Wall, among others. I was really impressed with 'Rodeo Free Europe' 14a/b, a climb I had been wanting to try for a long time. Cryptic beta and improbable moves characterize this ultra steep test piece. I felt this climb was definitely hard for it's 14a grade, and it seems many others agree. 'Atomic Stetson' 13c was another of my favorites, which boasts some exciting twists between good pockets. I had a few classics left on my list to do, but they will have to wait until I return.

Please feel free to post regarding finger injuries and experiences with recovery, etc. It's way too easy to search the internet for information and find only super-grim stories when you've got one hand sitting in a bath of cold water.. Cheers.

Photos: The Iris from Camp, My dad lowers off the Killer Cave.


  1. I've had numerous finger injuries and the one thing I've learned is that there is no magic cure. I tried the MacLeod water baths, but I didn't notice much difference. It's possible I wasn't doing it right though. It seems like a combination of rest and taping up the finger when you get back into climbing is the best way to go.

    Incidentally I suffered my worst finger injury climbing at the Wild Iris during the 2001 ICF. Cracked the bone in the knuckle of my middle finger after a couple straight weeks yarding on small pockets. Still gives me problems to this day!

  2. Thanks Narc
    Yeah, I've heard horror stories and encouragement alike, but nothing works for everyone it seems, except rest. It is not like me to take 4 days off from climbing, but I have forced myself to, just to give my best effort at a good healin'. The pain was not actually in the finger at all, it was in my palm so I'm quite sure it's not a pulley. Everything I've heard regarding rehab says that increasing circulation is key and that a little use (within limits) is actually good - I'm going to try and climb tomorrow and see how it feels.

    Pockets are so much fun, but they sure do hurt sometimes..


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