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So I fell on my face
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wonderwoman


Mar 21, 2005, 4:29 PM
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So I fell on my face
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Last Thursday I was leading a new climb in the gym. I was coming over a roof and going for a very reachy clip. There were absolutely no feet and the last clip was about 5 feet below me, so first I chickened out and down climbed to reevaluate the climb.

I took a long look and when I was sure I could do it, I attempted the roof again by heal hooking a small and slippery jib while taking all the slack out to go for the next clip. I reached and I reached and I reached, and finally lost my grip. I remember feeling a sense of relief because I was finally taking a rather long lead fall and felt like I had it all under control.

I pushed away from the wall with my feet and suddenly felt my body go in a very awkward position (upside down, I was told) at which point I had enough time to swear before the right side of my head and face slammed right into the wall.

Boy did I see a whole lot of stars, and I felt like my brain was sloshing around my head. I'm not sure if it was my foot that got stuck behind the rope or if it was my arm (another ugly armpit rope burn), but I ended up with a big welt on my cheek and the gym didn't even have an ice pack to offer me :cry:

I managed not to cry, but did ask my husband to take me to the ER to make sure that my brain was not going to leak out my ears. They said that if my headache lasted more than 10 days to come back. So far I feel better but still a little dopey and achey, and just a little swelling on my cheek. And I noticed the day after my fall my hands were sweating a ton, which is not normal for me.

I never expected to take a fall like that indoors and I still don't know what I did wrong or why it happened. I decided to take some time off until I feel better. It's almost outdoor season, and I really hope that this experience isn't going to spook me out.

Anyway, just felt like sharing my ugly story. I feel really lucky about not messing up my face or brains, though! I guess it could have been a lot worse!


montafoner


Mar 21, 2005, 4:56 PM
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Ouch, that hurts. The sweaty palms is probably caused by hitting your head/brain so hard. It will probably go away and your headache will probably linger a few more days. If the pain/swelling persists, go back to the doctor and get a scan.

A friend of mine fell while running, hit his head and still has no sense of smell two years later.


areuinclimber


Mar 21, 2005, 5:02 PM
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ooooooh..... that sucks.
hope you have insurance.... i hoofed it to the ER after a gnarly fall snowboarding and it ran be close to 3g's, my insurance covered all but 50 clams but still! i would rather suffer permanent speech impediment (not really).

and it shouldnt spook your outsider..ness (??) as you SHOULD be wearing a bucket. o well... at least now you can think of some thoroughly raw battle story from which the injury hath stemmed.


wonderwoman


Mar 21, 2005, 5:04 PM
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and it shouldnt spook your outsider..ness (??) as you SHOULD be wearing a bucket. o well... at least now you can think of some thoroughly raw battle story from which the injury hath stemmed.

Yes! that is what I thought was funny! If I had been attempting a climb like this outside I would have definately been wearing a helmet. Who would have thought you might need one indoors?


jt512


Mar 21, 2005, 5:28 PM
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I pushed away from the wall with my feet...

Why?

In reply to:
...and suddenly felt my body go in a very awkward position (upside down, I was told) at which point I had enough time to swear before the right side of my head and face slammed right into the wall...I still don't know what I did wrong or why it happened. It's almost outdoor season, and I really hope that this experience isn't going to spook me out.

To be blunt: You shouldn't be leading unless you know how to avoid inverted falls. If you don't know why you fell like that, you'd better figure it out before you get back on the sharp end. A fall like that outdoors could easily be fatal, with or without that helmet you think is so important.

-Jay


wonderwoman


Mar 21, 2005, 5:55 PM
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Jt512 - is this the elitist thread that your sig is referring too? :lol:

I can appreciate bluntness. And now to be blunt with you, while I agree that I made a mistake and did not assess the risk of the fall correctly, I don't feel that the safety of helmets is simply a matter of opinion. But whatever. I can do a forum search to revisit that debate, too.

I pushed away from the wall to avoid smacking into the wall on my way down. But to be honest, I can't remember being upside down or what flipped me that way. the draw over the roof was not directly under the last one, I had a whole lot of slack out, and for some reason, and I can't even remember, I wound up getting really whipped around.

Thanks for your opinion, and trust me that I am trying to learn what the hell I did do wrong so that something like this never happens again inside or outside to me or to anyone who I climb with. When I figure that out, I will feel a lot better. Helmet or not, it was scary and I don't want to do it again. I may be a little slow right now, but I'm not stupid.


Partner gunksgoer


Mar 21, 2005, 6:10 PM
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reason number 5302 why gyms suck...

when i lead in the gym, i almost always climb in the leadcave. an inverted fall (if i ever end up taking one)on overhanging ground can oftentimes just leave you scared and (if your a guy) clutching your family jewels.

falls on overhanging ground tend to be less severe in general, since they just leave you dangling in space. just as long as you are aware of how you shouldnt fall (and where) you should be fine on steep rock whereas less steep rock involves lots of scraping and uncertainties. friends dont let friends climb slab. (i must have bad friends)

sry to hear about your accident, and im glad you walked away. happy climbing. -ws


jt512


Mar 21, 2005, 6:11 PM
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Jt512 - is this the elitist thread that your sig is referring too? :lol:

I can appreciate bluntness. And now to be blunt with you, while I agree that I made a mistake and did not assess the risk of the fall correctly, I don't feel that the safety of helmets is simply a matter of opinion.

The importance of helmets is most certainly a matter of opinion. What is not, or should not be, a matter of opinion is that learning not to fall on your head is more important than the decision to wear or not wear a helmet.

In reply to:
I pushed away from the wall to avoid smacking into the wall on my way down.

Although I can't picture the scenario you faced based on your post, pushing away from the wall causes you to swing back into the wall. You should only consciously push away from the wall when you need to fall past a ledge or other large obstacle. I have done this precisely once (and it's scary, but better than landing on a ledge).

In reply to:
But to be honest, I can't remember being upside down or what flipped me that way. the draw over the roof was not directly under the last one, I had a whole lot of slack out, and for some reason, and I can't even remember, I wound up getting really whipped around.

You probably can't remeber because you hit your head. It's normal not to remember the events just preceding a head injury.

In reply to:
When I figure that out, I will feel a lot better. Helmet or not, it was scary and I don't want to do it again. I may be a little slow right now, but I'm not stupid.

You probably had the rope behind your leg.

-Jay


jakedatc


Mar 21, 2005, 6:20 PM
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yea.. were you clipping with the hand same side as the heel hook?.. or the opposite site/ straight leg side.. both ways i could see how the rope would be behind and flip you

that's nice of the ER to let you deal with a possible concussion for 10 days. should be able to find signs, symptoms and some basic things to do "if" on google


glyrocks


Mar 21, 2005, 6:23 PM
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Glad you didn't get hurt worse. I took a nasty fall on my head once and walked away too, but then again I did have a helmet on.

Don't worry about the theory-perfectionists. Shit happens even when you know how you're supposed to avoid it.


jt512


Mar 21, 2005, 6:24 PM
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yea.. were you clipping with the hand same side as the heel hook?.. or the opposite site/ straight leg side.. both ways i could see how the rope would be behind and flip you

The rope doesn't magically end up behind the climber's leg. The climber moves in front of the rope.

-Jay


jakedatc


Mar 21, 2005, 6:29 PM
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thanks J.. im aware of that i'm saying i could see how she brought the rope up to clip with it being behind her leg


wonderwoman


Mar 21, 2005, 6:49 PM
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yea.. were you clipping with the hand same side as the heel hook?.. or the opposite site/ straight leg side.. both ways i could see how the rope would be behind and flip you

I was heal hooking with my left leg and clipping with my left hand. I had a huge jug with my right hand at the same level with my left heal hook and had to do pull up like move to try to make the clip. I really can't remember the rope being behind my leg, but usually I am aware and extra paranoid about that. On this particular climb I was not having any trouble with my fear. I felt confident that it was a hard move and well within my ability.

I really don't know if it was my foot that flipped me. But I do have a big rope burn under my left armpit. Maybe that's what got tangled when the rope went tight and that's why I hit my right cheek? I can only guess right now, though. I don't know.


jt512


Mar 21, 2005, 6:58 PM
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I had a huge jug with my right hand at the same level with my left heal hook and had to do pull up like move to try to make the clip.

You keep alluding in one way or another how reachy the clip was, which suggests to me that you should have climbed higher and clipped from a higher hold.

If you lost your handhold and your foot stayed heel-hooked, you will start to flip upside down (I really don't like clipping from a heel hook for this reason). If you weren't able to get your foot off the hold fast enough, then the only thing that might keep you upright is to keep a grip on the rope.

-Jay


wonderwoman


Mar 21, 2005, 7:07 PM
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You keep alluding in one way or another how reachy the clip was, which suggests to me that you should have climbed higher and clipped from a higher hold.

At this point, I think I just should have backed off completely. I hung at the lower clip and looked at the climb for a while to try to figure out where to clip from. Since my fall, my friends emailed me to say they had trouble with the clip, too. I just should have allowed myself to walk away.

Oh, and after just talking it over with BEC (my witness who says it happened too fast to see it all and figure it all out) I don't think I pulled the rope up between my legs to try to clip. So, my leg could have been behind the rope like you suggest. No matter how I analyze, I just can't remember some things. It really happened fast, and I did not think it would happen to me.


organic


Mar 21, 2005, 7:20 PM
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The only time I would climb with a helmet is when there is a chance of rocks or gear falling on my head, otherwise don't get in over your head, no pun intended. Lately I see a lot of people strolling around the crag with stick clips or top roping with helmets. I am all about being safe but if you can't safely make the first clip on a route then don't climb it or if you can't safely make any clip then don't climb it. Learn from your mistakes and don't fall while trying to clip!

Two rules of climbing:
1. Leader never falls
2. If he does fall he does not fall while trying to clip!

If a helmet gives you the confidence you need to climb a route then use it but trust yourself because you have that courage and tenacity and knowledge and safety there without the helmet. Climb hard and keep pushing those limits.


billcoe_


Mar 21, 2005, 7:27 PM
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I for one do not believe that you are the real wonderwoman, I am glad you are OK though.

The real wonderwoman would not be having this issue.

That's what I think.

Regards

Bill (not spiderman) Coe


tarzan420


Mar 21, 2005, 7:46 PM
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part of things might be due to the fact that you fell trying to make a reachy clip. My personal experience has been that if you're struggling to reach a clip (as uncomfortable as it may be) you should move up first and then clip - it's better to fall trying those moves with little slack out, than to fall trying to clip from lower with more slack out.


jakedatc


Mar 21, 2005, 7:53 PM
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In reply to:
.
T0
:troll:


glyrocks


Mar 21, 2005, 9:05 PM
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The leader must never fall? Shit! Why do I keep dragging all this gear around? I should have read Freedom of the Hills I guess.


blueeyedclimber


Mar 22, 2005, 7:26 AM
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My assessment as the witness:

WW and I have talked it over and I have a few things:

1. When she heel-hooked, her foot was behind the rope. Often I make a judgement to do this for ease in bringing up rope to clip. Heel-hooking puts you in a awkward position, so is probably not the best time for this and would be too hard to correct yourself in the event of a fall. It happened very fast, so I could not tell where the rope was after the fall.

2. IMO, this climb should have had a clip on the roof. I have not done this climb because I am taking time off, but it seems to me that a clip situated on the lip of the roof would have prevented the need for a reachy move to clip off of a heel-hook. The climb was up a vertical wall and over a roof and the last clip was on the wall quite a few feet below the roof. When she fell she got swung and twisted right in to the vertical part. I would like to climb it before a clip is added to better assess it, but that's what it seemed to me.

3. JT, you have a lot of nerve telling someone they shouldn't lead climb. Sher made a mistake and she will learn from it. She probably didn't assess it right, because she figured it was in a gym and got complacent about it, and didn't think it would be a dangerous fall. I am sure there have been plenty of lessons you have learned over your climbing career.

4. And Bill-coe, I don't believe you are the real deal. Wonderwoman is all that and a bag of chips. Personally, I don't think the "real" Wonder woman is the real wonderwoman. I would take my wife any day. You're just jealous because you don't have a super hero to go home to everyday. If "Wonder Woman" had taken that fall, she would have cried like a little baby.

Josh


jt512


Mar 22, 2005, 7:47 AM
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1. When she heel-hooked, her foot was behind the rope. Often I make a judgement to do this for ease in bringing up rope to clip. Heel-hooking puts you in a awkward position, so is probably not the best time for this and would be too hard to correct yourself in the event of a fall. It happened very fast, so I could not tell where the rope was after the fall.

If by "behind the rope" you mean "in front of the rope," then there is no good time to do this. You should never intentially step in front of the rope. Get that? Never.

In reply to:
2. IMO, this climb should have had a clip on the roof.

It sounds like it might be a dangerously bolted route. [Yes, hardcore trad-boyz, gyms can have dangerously bolted routes.]
In reply to:
3. JT, you have a lot of nerve telling someone they shouldn't lead climb.

You're welcome.

-Jay


crimpandgo


Mar 22, 2005, 7:50 AM
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In reply to:
You keep alluding in one way or another how reachy the clip was, which suggests to me that you should have climbed higher and clipped from a higher hold.

At this point, I think I just should have backed off completely. I hung at the lower clip and looked at the climb for a while to try to figure out where to clip from. Since my fall, my friends emailed me to say they had trouble with the clip, too. I just should have allowed myself to walk away.

Oh, and after just talking it over with BEC (my witness who says it happened too fast to see it all and figure it all out) I don't think I pulled the rope up between my legs to try to clip. So, my leg could have been behind the rope like you suggest. No matter how I analyze, I just can't remember some things. It really happened fast, and I did not think it would happen to me.

Don't back off Sista! you keep right on leading when you are ready. Some of the folks on this site think everything is predictable and seem to forget a key way to learn is to DO. You are gonna make mistakes. JT is right. IT is better it happened in the Gym than outdoors. Learn what you can, and most of all, get back up there and redo it so that you can get over the fear that sometimes builds after a mishap.

There are "rules" for how to climb safe, but the best get caught by unpredictable situations. Go pick up an issue of Rock and Ice or climbing if you want a constant reminder of what happens to experienced climbers on a daily basis. Some are avoidable I am sure, and others were not.

As you ave already stated, there are points where you told yourself "maybe I should back off"... Those thoughts should weigh heavily while you climb. Its your inner self tryin to keep you safe.

Oh, definitely keep an eye on that noggin.. They tell you 10 days for a reason. Some things they can find on a scan right away. Some things don't become evident until swelling goes down. They were not putting you off by telling you to wait, they were asking you to come back for your "after swelling" check-up :). I been there, I know :):)


blueeyedclimber


Mar 22, 2005, 8:01 AM
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If by "behind the rope" you mean "in front of the rope," then there is no good time to do this. You should never intentially step in front of the rope. Get that? Never.

-Jay

You gonna argue semantics with me. Yes, thats what i meant. Your "never" answer is no good here. I guarantee you do some things that go against what you were taught, but you are well aware of the situation and the consequences. In some situations, to get my foot out of the way, I will stick it in front if the clip is off to the side. I am always aware of it and am prepared in the event of a fall. This is a totally different thing than clipping while heel-hooking.


rickvena


Mar 22, 2005, 8:16 AM
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Man, I've heard some really dumb@ss statements regarding the fallicy of helmets......BUT JEEZ!!!! There is some really ass backwards "logic" being woofed here. When we see a bicyclist wearing a helmet do we assume they are a noob? Do we assume they are intending to ride a dangerous route? NO!!! I think most reasonable ADULTS think "good for you being safe" Yeah Yeah...I know that helmet may not save your life under all circumstances, but... end rant.

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