The Road to Recovery

Ok, you’re injured.  The obvious aftermath: time off of climbing to let the injury heal.  For me after I sprained my ankle at Horse Pens back in November, I took 10 days off without climbing and bouldered carefully in the gym for a couple weeks.  “It’s just a sprain,” I told myself, “It’ll be fine after a month.”

It wasn’t fine after a month, but luckily now after about 4 months, I am *almost* fully healed.  Minus the sad reality that it’s still too painful to run and I have to strap on an ankle brace for steep approaches, I have begun to take bigger and bigger falls with little to no pain.  However after 4 months, my mental healing is quite a different story.

Getting injured totally sucks.  The awful crackly noise of a pulley tearing while locked off on a crimp.  The sharp pain of tendinitis in an elbow, or a finger.  Ouchies.  Getting injured on a fall, though, can turn into a total mind fuck: ouch in the ankle and ouch in the confidence.

My hardest ascents from this season were lowballs.  After a close call on Latin for Dagger in December [going the wrong way on the top out and swearing I would fall and snap my ankle in half], I wrote off anything with a crux that would require my feet to be higher than 5 feet off the ground.  I was so scared.  I was mad at myself for being scared, but I felt like I couldn’t help it.  Not committing to the huck on Chapter 13 even though there was a sea of giant doods under me to pluck me out of the air.  Downclimbing from the top out of Matt’s Prow because I got too nervous and I had to do the entire climb again.

Shot from Drexel's video:
Melise [] styles the top out that I sloppily used my knees and face to get up.  This is the position from which I downclimbed. Shot from Drexel’s video:
Nope, I projected climbs like Bosley Traverse.  A traverse with a crux that required my butt to be about 6 inches off the ground.  And Ominous Roof–which is definitely proud– but with the crux being the very first move.

Bosley Traverse
Bosley Traverse

After 4 months, I still downclimb every time I get to the top of the gym wall.  I won’t go for big moves to the top of a climb.  I look at tall boulders outside and say “nuh uh, moving on.”  I call myself a wimp, but I still can’t bring myself to commit to anything up high.  Stuck in scaredy cat land.  But Step 1 to recovery is admitting I have a problem (check!) and I am ready to actively fight this mental battle.

My proudest ascent from Boone last weekend was most definitely The Gift — a classic highball V2.  It is the first highball I have even touched in months.  Carson pointed it out to me and told me I should do it, to which I immediately responded, “hell no!” With a height of “freaking tall” and the crux at the very top, it quickly got categorized as “not for Juliet”.

The Gift , from Drexel's video:
The Gift , from Drexel’s video:

Andrew and Carson were putting in some goes on Shinister when a crew pulled some pads under The Gift.  I watched a couple of guys smoothly climb their way up it and kindly chalk up the top out.  “ALRIGHT, I’LL DO IT.” I half-angrily, half-proudly exclaimed.  And there I was palming around the top of the boulder, not quite being able to reach the godsend jug.  I jammed my hands in a crack before the jug, “bravely” walked my feet up the crumbly face and thrutched to the jug, my brain screaming at me the entire time.  The first words out of my mouth, “Dude, that was fucking scary!!!!!!”  With my heart pounding like I just sprinted a mile, I walked off and around the boulder with shaky legs to receive some fist bumps.

With my ankle finally almost healed, I have only just begun my road to mental recovery from my fall.  I want to be brave again, and I will be brave again.  The Gift was what I deem progress, and to those with experiences similar to mine, let’s get after it.

For an overly detailed description of the fall itself click dis: