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Jun 16, 2014
Here's a supremely embarrassing injury report, delivered in hopes that it might help others:

What Happened

A week after climbing some runout Tuolomne slab, I took my buddy out toproping by the beach. He hadn't done a lot of outdoor climbing, and I had a great view of him hanging over the ocean. What a great picture, so while I was belaying, I decided to frame the shot by backing up this ramp of rock maybe 15-20ft from the wall, and about 5ft up. I'm a big guy and he took a few hangs that didn't really affect me, but I was careful to always have my hand on the brake rope coming out of the grigri.

Rock Climbing Photo: Good Pic!
Good Pic!

At the end of the route I lowered him down and asked him to reclip a directional I set up on the route. He grabbed the draw and pulled himself up a bit to clip the rope, and once it was clipped, flopped back.

Rock Climbing Photo: before

It was just enough weight to lift me up off the ramp and swing the 20ft into the wall. I was suprised at how much rope stretch dropped my position, so what seemed like 5 feet turned into much more. I hit the wall with my feet extended out and my knees locked. All my weight went into my left foot which hit slightly sooner than my right and I felt the crunch of bone and the sparkle of nerve. Fractured talus.

Rock Climbing Photo: after

I lowered him down to the ground, pulled the rope, bailed on our gear and crawled my way back up the approach trail.

Lessons Learned

The major lesson I learned is that just because it's not runout lead climbing, there's still danger to be found if you're careless. I should have considered the fall trajectory while belaying as I do when I'm climbing.

The second lesson that may be useful to readers is how I crawled back after the injury. Despite not exactly being sure I had a break, I was extremely careful to not put any weight on my injured foot. This involved a ton of hopping and crawling as my buddy went ahead with both packs. Upon arriving in the ER, it was revealed that I had a shattered talus, but the fragments were remarkably undisplaced, and at this point my doctor is not recommending surgery to relocate them. The lesson here is that even if it feels macho to carry a pack and walk out on your injury, if you suspect a break, it pays off to be conservative and stay off of it.
Joined Jan 5, 2012
383 points
Jun 16, 2014
Good luck with a speedy recovery!

Just one of the reasons we should always stay close the wall while belaying.


I like how your drawings are to perfect scale and show such great detail. I wish other people on this site has such great MS Paint skills.
Kyler R
From SLC
Joined May 23, 2013
0 points
Jun 16, 2014
That is a pretty wonderful photo. Hope you heal quickly. cassondra long
Joined Nov 26, 2008
90 points
Jun 27, 2014
Good luck with the recovery. I also broke my Talus and Calcanus (heel bone) by slamming back into the wall. I was the climber and received a slightly hard catch. It was 4 months ago last weekend and I started climbing about 3 weeks ago in the gym and got outdoors last weekend. Best advice I can give you is try and stay in shape the best you can and when released to walk walk as much as you can. It will hurt like crazy but the more mobile you become the quicker your recovery will be Jon Powell
Joined Jan 23, 2012
5 points
Jun 27, 2014
Hiking out injured sucks. Get well soon. Dallas R
From Traveling the USA
Joined May 12, 2013
48 points

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