Thursday, September 27, 2012

Horsetooth Recovery

I removed my stitches on Tuesday, exactly 10 days after my Fall, and it healed up nicely.
Awesome job from the PA who stitched me up!

I still have 2 bruises that I can feel when running, but those are going away, too.

I finally returned to the Rock for the first time since I fell.  I didn't intend on taking that long to get back up, as I wanted to go as soon as possible, but that's how my schedule worked out.  Previously this year, in fact, I had been up at least once a week, until the fires closed down the park for over a week.  I'll still plan on ~50 summits for the year, which pales in comparison to those that can run it a few times a week from their driveway.

I was anxious to summit again, but also wanted to check out where, and how, and how far, I fell.
I'm not sure exactly where I landed, but my best guess is pretty high up in the gap along some mossy rocks.  

 Basically, I fell down most of this from the right (my head would have been just over 3/4 of the way up the top of the pic).

There's a narrow, steeper pitch below that which I'm very fortunate not to have fallen.

The pic doesn't do much good without perspective, so here's a pic with people on it for scale:
I was at least 3/4 of the way up the right side of the right gap, and fell to just below the bottom of that gap.  In person, I could tell my feet were over 4 "Mike Heights" above the highest spot I might have at minimum, I fell at least 25 feet -- or my body and head fell 30.  Yikes.

So I poked around a bit on the route that Nick actually took up, so I could also try to get a better view and pic of where I was.  I only went up a little bit with no intention of going further than just a safe distance, and I hit wet rock (from the previous day's rain) as expected, but I had a purpose of testing this safe distance out.  Although I was only 6-7 feet off the ground, when I turned around to downclimb, I hesitated.  Then I thought about sliding and my heart started racing.  Craph, that's exactly what I was worried about.
My body's healing nicely, but my mind hasn't yet.  
I paused twice (for a few minutes) to shake away those feelings on a few easy steps, rotating around and deciding whether to face in or not on something I could easily have jumped off of.  

I slowly reassured myself that I had great footholds and got down, but it shows that I need to shake this off and gain my confidence back in as slow and safe of a manner as necessary.

It also occurred to me how little Class 4+ downclimbing on rock faces I actually do -- I feel great upclimbing, I feel great on ledgy exposure on ridges and stemming both up and down chimneys, but having to search for smaller holds with my feet when downclimbing is clearly a weakness.

It also occurred to me that I couldn't remember how Clark got down after I fell, but it certainly must have sucked even more for him to have had to hurry a somewhat technical downclimb.  Normally, we would have just gone down the standard route.

Once I got passed where I fell the rest of it was easy and without a second-thought, so it could also be very specific negative thoughts from being on the exact same route.

I went up for a quick summit on the standard route, something I think I could do with my eyes closed.

I learned that I have to get my confidence back slowly and safely -- but I also learned, again, how lucky I was.


  1. You removed the stitches, eh?

    Those pix put a new perspective on it. Clearly a DAYUM perspective man.

    I have found that as I have gotten older, the mind is serving messages of caution a lot more than I care to admit.

    Way to get back on the horse though ... impressive.

  2. You "kids" heal so damned fast. I get an assortment of mere scratches every time I head out (trees, rocks, whatever) and they take two weeks to heal. You gouge a giant trough in your leg and it's gone in two weeks. WTH.

    Seriously, glad you were OK.

    And I'm pushing that envelope now too, so it's good to know that survival happens.

  3. Thanks guys...coincidentally, I had some usual bushwhacking scratches from the previous Thursday (2 days earlier), so I was using them as a marker during the week to extrapolate how quickly my other surface scratches would heal!

    I have a stitch removal video that I'll have to edit and put up sometime, definitely easy and saves $!

    The messages in the head thing is now a bit of a hindrance...the voice that tells me to turn around on something is still a good one I ignored it before I fell. The new feeling has some fear to it *while* I was doing something...and that's not good. It's normal after an accident, but it's not good - I can't just jump right into where I was before it until I get that settled a bit.