Sunday, March 30, 2014

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, but in the land of Ouray, the one-eyed man misses a climbing day.

After blowing up my thumb last November, I had to cancel a lot of climbing plans that I was really looking forward to.  These included a trip to Red Rocks with my friend Mark, and a trip to to Hyalite to climb ice with my friend Rich.  To console myself, I began running, a lot!  These running binges included a fun 6000ft+ day in the San Gabriel Mountains with my friend David, and culminated in the Wilson Creek Frozen Feet 50K.

After the 50K, my whole body hurt.  But a few days after the race, I felt mostly better except for a sharp pain in the ball of my left foot where I had come down really hard on a sharp rock somewhere in the last 4 miles of the race.  No problem, just a bruise, or so I thought.  A week and a half of no running and painful walking later, I went to the doctor.  No broken bones, but it was most likely some nerve damage in my foot.  This stupid little nagging injury kept me from running for almost 5 weeks, and was actually much harder to cope with than blowing up my hand.  

At the end of January, I couldn't climb, I couldn't run, and I was in a pretty dark place.  I tried to take my mind off of things by reading some books on chess strategy, with the goal of one day being able to beat my little brother.  I'm getting better, and I've come close in a few games, but still have yet to win one.  But alas, reading books on chess could not come close to comparing with being outside in the mountains, breathing hard in the cold fresh air.  

Things started to turn around as February rolled in.  The hand doctor gave me the all-clear to climb.  I had been doubtful about my ability to climb on our much anticipated trip to Ouray, so this was welcome news indeed!  

After a test climb at the Black Cliffs, I was feeling good and starting to regain some stoke!  By time Ouray rolled around in the middle of February, I still wasn't running, but was sure I could do at least a little climbing!

Troy, Ann-Marie and I left after work on Thursday, and drove all night from Boise to Ouray fueled by coffee and corn dogs.

We met up with Dave, Nick, Lauren, Marc, Jillian, & Rich in Green River and caravanned from there.  When we arrived in Ouray on Friday morning, we didn't waste any time, and went straight to the ice to start swinging our tools!

Troy did a couple test top-ropes, and then decided he was feeling strong enough to try his first ice lead!

Troy's first ice lead!

That afternoon we all headed to town for Mexican food and "just one" irish car-bomb at the local pub.  Afterwords we went straight to work repeating several of our previously-established condo bouldering problems, and even sending some new ones!

Nick on the mantel problem

The next day we headed back to the ice park where everyone got a ton of laps, most on both top-rope and the sharp end.

Troy, back for more action on the sharp end!

As always the Ouray Ice Park was crowded, but there were plenty of routes to go around, and there was a general good vibe amongst everyone.

Rich, Nick, and Troy, pulled the rope and are preparing to lead back out on the ultra-classic WI4 Tangled Up & Blue

Rich, leading TU&B

Rich, nearing the top of TU&B

At one point, someone showed up with a drone that they used to fly in and get some close up photos of Rich.

Troy following TU&B

Nick following TU&B

On Sunday, Troy, Ann Marie, Nick, and Lauren decided to go tackle Dexter Creek Slabs for some multi-pitch ice fun, and Marc met up with a buddy and they went to ski at Silverton (essentially lift-access backcountry, pretty cool sounding, look it up).  

Meanwhile, Dave, Rich, Jillian, and I went to rack up some more pitches in the ice park.  A late start for us meant that we had trouble finding a line with no people on it, but when we did, we made the most of it!  I got 12 pitches in over the course of only about 1/2 a day, Rich got 11, and both Jillian and Dave were close to 10!

Jillian demonstrating perfect ice form: feet level, legs straight, and hips in as she swings.

Jillian, fighting hard to clear a bulge!

Monday was to be our last day of climbing.  Marc, Rich, Jillian, and I decided to head to Dexter Creek Slabs for some multi-pitch ice.  Since our friends had climbed the route the day before, we were hoping to take advantage of the V-threads they had installed for a quick descent when we were done.  

On the hike in we got to a point where we needed to put on crampons.  I figured I'd put my harness on too while we were stopped.  As I tried to extract my harness from my backpack, something was stuck, so I pulled harder.  The "something" ended up being my Grivel ice-tool tethers (basically a bungee cord with a carabiner on the end).  

As I pulled it stretched tight, and then . . . . WHACK!!! 

The tether cut loose and zapped me right in the eyeball!  It was so fast I don't think I even had time to blink.  I went down with my hand over my eye.  Ouch!  I tried to open my eye and all I could see out of it was a milky white blur.  "Shit!  Another injury?  This CAN'T be happening!"

At first I thought maybe I could still climb, but after taking one look at it, and seeing that it appeared to be filling with blood, all 3 of my friends agreed that I needed to go to an ER.  I didn't want to spoil all of their last climbing day, so we agreed that Jillian would take me to the ER while Marc and Rich continued to the climb.  

Corneal Hemorrhage 
Jill drove me the hour to Telluride hospital.  After checking me out the doc said I was lucky (seems to be a common statement when you get injured for some reason . . .) as if it had struck me another centimeter to the left I would be much worse off.  As it was, I had a corneal hemorrhage, which meant I'd have a freaky looking eye for a few weeks and need to take some antibiotic drops.  Whew!  I dodged a bullet (or a biner!) on that one!  

I bought Jillian a nice lunch in Telluride (the least I could do after ending her last climbing day to take me to the hospital), and then headed back.  

We had one last tasty dinner, and then we all drove back to the real world on Tuesday.  It was a great trip, and was super fun catching up with some of my old climbing buddies from back in California!

1 comment:

  1. Your college nickname of "Corn Dog" sure applies here... eating a gas station corn dog and getting a CORNeal hemorrhage. Thanks for saving my hubby, Jillian!