I’m a lucky man.
Yesterday, it was a cold and cloudy morning. Perfect for climbing. So cloudy that it looked like the higher elevation areas were not going to be good. So, naturally, we headed to the Veritas boulder. It was roadside and if it started raining there was no commitment.
Erin and I both have hard projects on it. The conditions were great. I decided I would try to do Mendax, a V12 or 13 line that involves a terrible sloper pinch.
I had put a considerable amount of effort into it, and the slopey non-hold was feeling more and more like a hold. I gave it a few tries and fell on the crux sequence.
Then I had a good go.
The sloper felt better than it ever had, I walked my feet through, and reached up to the next sloper. I was through the hardest moves. I walked my feet up to prepare for the last harder move, a small jump to a good edge. I could tell I didn’t have either of the slopers one hundred percent perfectly, but that wasn’t too surprising… I thought I probably had them good enough. I jumped at the edge and swung out from the wall. My left hand popped off the sloper and I found myself falling. After a moment, my old gymnastics background kicked in, and I knew something wasn’t right, I was in the air a little too long. I knew was going to miss the landing.
I came down belly first first onto a slanting boulder, and as I impacted I felt a crack in my chest. I bounced up to my feet off the boulder and continued careening down the hill. After thirty feet or so I found myself sitting, stunned. It was a scary moment. I tried to carefully breathe and waited to see what kind of pain would surface. After a few breathes I was relieved to be able to breathe without any extreme, sharp pains. My worst fear was breaking a rib and puncturing a lung or something else very important. After a few minutes I got to my feet. I managed to walk back up to the boulder and sat down. My chest hurt like hell, and I could see a big blood splotch on my knee. I pulled up my pant leg and saw that I had a very deep puncture, all the way down to the bone. My chest was bloodied from the belly flop too and the stinging sensation began to set in. It was apparent I was probably going to be hurting a lot very soon.
Besides all that, nothing major was wrong. After waiting for half an hour or so I had the silly idea of trying to do the problem. I figured I was alive after all, and I should see how things felt. After five more minutes my shoes were back on and I pulled onto the top and figured out a slightly better, and hopefully safer sequence. A few minutes later I went from the bottom. Going through the tension-filled moves I felt a painful tightness in my chest. I grabbed the first bad sloper and got it perfectly. Soon I was at the spot I had taken the horrible fall at, and I kept my composure and finished it out.
Now, a day later, I’m glad I gave it that hail mary go. It would have been easy not to…
I hurt worse. I definitely have to take a little time off. But that’s alright, I got lucky.