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Broken Hand, dashed hopes
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climbingaggie03


Feb 3, 2010, 1:36 PM
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Broken Hand, dashed hopes
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I thought I'd post this up now that I have time, I had an injury while climbing this fall that I'd like to share.

I was in Yosemite in October of 2009 for my 4th year running. My partner and I had decided at the last minute to go for 10 days just to get away from it all, enjoy the valley, and get some relaxing cragging in.

We flew in to Oakland, rented a car and got ourselves to the valley. On the way, we stopped for supplies, we got all the essentials, goldfish crackers, mothers frosted cookies, Johnny Walker, Gin and Vermouth (what is camp 4 without martini's?) 30 pack of PBR (we are climbers) as well as pasta, rice, beans, etc.

We started to wonder when we would have time to climb with all the drinking we had planned, but figured we were up for the challenge. We got up on saturday morning, neither of us had climbed in a few weeks, so we decided to head over to the grack on glacier point apron because we both love that climb and we wanted to do something mellow to get warmed up on

We got to the parking lot and there was another car of climbers unloading as well, while my partner dealt with a biological problem, I gathered that the other climbers were new leaders from the bay area here with a climbing club to get their first outdoor trad leads in. Great, we definitely wanted to be in front of them but they seemed very amiable so we decided to hurry up and they would take their time. We got the rack sorted, we decided that we'd simulclimb, my partner would lead and I'd second. We've simuled 30 or 40 pitches together and we have our system pretty well dialed.

We trucked it to the base and lo and behold we were first ones there, while my partner heads up the first pitch, two rather attractive woman climbers arrive and start to rack up. I trade the customary base banter, assure them that we won't be in their way, and then head up. The grack is rated 5.6 and is a fantastic climb, slabby with nice crack for 95% of the route and it gets sun in the morning. I clear the first crux of the route, an insecure traverse and then over a bulge. I climb another 50 feet or so and my partner has hit the second crux of the climb, 15 feet of 5.6 slab with the last pro below your feet. He calls for a belay, so I clip to a #2 camalot and a #2 link cam and start feeding rope through the gri-gri.

He makes pretty short work of the crux and calls down that I can climb, which is good because I only have about 2 feet of rope left. I stand up off the cams to get going and lose my balance. I don't want to smack my face on the wall so I stick my right hand out, my ring finger catches on the slab and then I hear a pop associated with a large amount of pain coming from my finger/hand area. I immediately sit back on the cams and start trying to figure out what is going on. My hand is killing me, I'm getting a little bit of tunnel vision, I'm trying not to puke, and I have no Idea what to do.

After the world stops spinning, and the nausea goes away (I really didn't want to puke on such a popular route, especially with the aforementioned women below me) I start to try and figure out what is wrong with my hand. My first guess is a broken finger, but a quick inspection of the finger bones doesn't find a break. So I think, maybe I dislocated it, but it was definitely in place, so maybe it popped itself back in, I hoped. I got past the knuckle though and the pain was way more intense, and I thought I felt some instability. Great, something probably broken in my hand.

This whole process takes about 30 minutes, all the while, my partner is 20 feet above his last piece standing on some insecure slab while he can see the rap bolts and can't hear me yelling up that something is wrong. I have our second rope on my back and the girls below me and I have been talking about how I'm going to rap down my line to them and then from there to the ground, the only problem is, I cant get in touch with my partner to tell him any of this. Then he calls down, "Dude, I'm 4 feet from the anchors, can you give me 4 feet?" (he had assumed that I was dealing with a rope tangle) I decided that I could worm my way up 4 feet so that he could clip the bolts, and then I could get down.

I climbed the 4 feet one handed, he yelled off belay, and while he rigged a belay for me, I decided to just finish the route. So I climbed the last 200 feet, calling for tension once or twice, as soon as I got within yelling distance with my partner I told him I had broken something in my hand. He went from being pissed off because I had made him sit there for so long to very sympathetic. He even tried to insist that he rap with me hanging off his belay loop. I politely yet forcefully declined, and told him I'd do the raps on my own with a prussic backup. On the way down, I tried to invite the girls that were still on their way up to come over for a drink later and we could compare stories and they could help console me. The leader told me that she, "doesn't drink with boys who get hurt on the grack, but that she' be happy to climb with my partner" I continued down wounded on several levels.

We get down, Hike out, and go to the valley clinic, a few x-rays and a splint later I'm out with some vicodin and orders to take it easy. I broke my 4th metacarpal which is the bone on the hand side of the nukle. My trip was pretty much done, I did manage a bit of hiking, a couple of pitches around the swan slabs, and another trip up the grack (I figured climbing 5.6 counted as taking it easy) Fortunately my partner managed to scrounge people to climb with and managed a trip up royal arches, and some cragging around the valley.

I don't know if there's a lesson in this, I'm not sure if this was a preventable injury, arguably not simulclimbing would have helped, but I think this could have just as easily happened at a normal belay. I'm also interested if anyone has any better ways to have gotten out of the situation, I had enough gear to make an anchor, and a 60 meter rope (although I was 250 feet off the deck) My biggest problem was my partners safety and inability to communicate with him.


dugl33


Feb 3, 2010, 2:27 PM
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Re: [climbingaggie03] Broken Hand, dashed hopes [In reply to]
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Take it from me those sons-o-bitches know how to party.

Cali bound in the spring?

Regarding your injury, a friend of mine once tripped with his hands in his pockets and bashed his face hard enough to break his jaw. At least you didn't have your hands in your pockets.

dugl


climbingaggie03


Feb 3, 2010, 2:32 PM
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Re: [dugl33] Broken Hand, dashed hopes [In reply to]
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I don't think we're going to make it in the spring, but probably in the fall.

I definitely think a hand is a small price to pay to preserve the beauty that is my face :)


dugl33


Feb 3, 2010, 3:01 PM
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Re: [climbingaggie03] Broken Hand, dashed hopes [In reply to]
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Some people like to simuclimb with less rope between partners...

Andy Kirkpatrick, no 7...

http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/...ed_up_your_climbing/

Also, check this out...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmBafmArn-8

You could still leave the grigri prethreaded on the second. Might have helped in your case, at least with communication, and you would have had more free rope to feed and your partner probably would have reached the anchors.

Seems a little more complicated, though...


climbingaggie03


Feb 3, 2010, 3:20 PM
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Re: [dugl33] Broken Hand, dashed hopes [In reply to]
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I'm kinda confused dug, but we ususualy stay about 100 feet from each other, have a gri-gri prethreaded on the second and adjust the rope length as needed, keeping the spare coiled over my shoulders, or sometimes just hanging down. Are you saying that a prethreaded gri-gri would be better? or coiling and adjusting as necessary would be better?

I was kind of taking my time when he called for a belay, I can't remember why, I think either I didn't think there was tons of pro between us, or the part coming up was going to take 2 hands and I wouldn't want to hang around on it, so I was trying to find a time when he would be moving pretty constantly.


dugl33


Feb 3, 2010, 6:16 PM
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Re: [climbingaggie03] Broken Hand, dashed hopes [In reply to]
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I think I misunderstood your set up. Sounds like you were already doing what I was suggesting.

So, are you fully recovered? Getting any climbing in lately?


jungle_george


Feb 4, 2010, 12:34 PM
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Re: [climbingaggie03] Broken Hand, dashed hopes [In reply to]
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Nice recount of events, John. I hadn't thought about this for a while. Of all the dangerous situations we've gotten ourselves into (usually my fault), this happens on the Grack!

Also - hey Doug, how's it going? Funny to find you here. If you're still in I think we're down for a wall this fall. Sorry, spring is no good for me. Also, I know you've been dying to find out - I figured out the damn self leveling cement secret - apparently I was overmixing. Wouldn't you know it says not to do this right there on the bag?

Getting back to the story - since John took the time to post I thought I'd chime in too. In John's recount above, I was the leader. And I actually hadn't climbed any since the following spring, some 6 months prior.

The day this happened was weird to start off with - looking back we should have grabbed some PBR and cruised the el cap meadows route. We had arrived in the valley the night before - camp 4 and pines were packed full and we ended up spending a miserable night in curry village. The following morning I woke up with stomach problems.

To soothe my stomach, for breakfast I downed a PBR, two bananas, and a luna bar. I think it helped some, but I was still in bad shape - while racking up in the GP parking lot, I bet on a fart and lost. Since crumbly forest leaves don't make for great TP, I walked bow legged to the base.

All in all, not a great start to the trip.

Eventually we get to the base and take off - despite having sharted my pants, I was feeling really good on the route. Truth be told it's hard not to feel good on the grack, no matter what condition your pants are in. Anyways, I quickly arrive near the top of what would be pitch 3 - where fingers go to slab friction. I don't know why - maybe it was not having climbed for 6 months, but I called for a quick belay. A few moves later I called down for John to climb - that's when I ran out of rope and stood on slabby edges for what seemed like an eternity. In just a few minutes the wind had picked up where it was impossible to hear. Apparently during this time John had broken his hand.

Funniest thing about this whole event - when John eventually ties into the anchor, first thing he says was something to the effect of, "Dude, did you see those girls below us?"


styndall


Feb 4, 2010, 12:44 PM
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Re: [climbingaggie03] Broken Hand, dashed hopes [In reply to]
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climbingaggie03 wrote:
I climbed the 4 feet one handed, he yelled off belay, and while he rigged a belay for me, I decided to just finish the route. So I climbed the last 200 feet, calling for tension once or twice, as soon as I got within yelling distance with my partner I told him I had broken something in my hand. He went from being pissed off because I had made him sit there for so long to very sympathetic. He even tried to insist that he rap with me hanging off his belay loop. I politely yet forcefully declined, and told him I'd do the raps on my own with a prussic backup. On the way down, I tried to invite the girls that were still on their way up to come over for a drink later and we could compare stories and they could help console me. The leader told me that she, "doesn't drink with boys who get hurt on the grack, but that she' be happy to climb with my partner" I continued down wounded on several levels.

Them ladies is jerks.


lena_chita
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Feb 4, 2010, 1:26 PM
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climbingaggie03 wrote:
On the way down, I tried to invite the girls that were still on their way up to come over for a drink later and we could compare stories and they could help console me. The leader told me that she, "doesn't drink with boys who get hurt on the grack, but that she' be happy to climb with my partner".

Ouch, that must have stung...

Nice way to turn an A&I post into a fun-to-read trip report.

I hope you heal fast.


redsolarearth


Feb 5, 2010, 11:27 PM
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the insult from the girls probably hurt more than the broken hand


mr.tastycakes


Mar 2, 2010, 11:18 AM
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climbingaggie03 wrote:
On the way down, I tried to invite the girls that were still on their way up to come over for a drink later and we could compare stories and they could help console me. The leader told me that she, "doesn't drink with boys who get hurt on the grack, but that she' be happy to climb with my partner" I continued down wounded on several levels.

damn. that's just mean.


iknowfear


Mar 2, 2010, 12:23 PM
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jungle_george wrote:
To soothe my stomach, for breakfast I downed a PBR, two bananas, and a luna bar. I think it helped some, but I was still in bad shape - while racking up in the GP parking lot, I bet on a fart and lost. Since crumbly forest leaves don't make for great TP, I walked bow legged to the base.

All in all, not a great start to the trip.

Eventually we get to the base and take off - despite having sharted my pants, I was feeling really good on the route. Truth be told it's hard not to feel good on the grack, no matter what condition your pants are in.

climbingaggie03 wrote:
On the way down, I tried to invite the girls that were still on their way up to come over for a drink later and we could compare stories and they could help console me. The leader told me that she, "doesn't drink with boys who get hurt on the grack, but that she' be happy to climb with my partner" I continued down wounded on several levels.

Laugh
ah, had she known the state of the pants...


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