After a quick tour of the bouldering in Vegas, we’re back in our lovely little trailer in the Pit campground in Bishop. I’m getting pretty used to the gimp life. My left heel has been broken for nearly three weeks, and I won’t be able to put any weight on it for another few weeks. Being injured on a climbing trip is not my first choice, but all things considered, I’m not too disappointed.
The biggest change is that I’m not climbing. Instead, I’ll crutch out to the boulders and watch Vikki, Steve, Angie, and others trying their projects. I offer beta when possible, take photos, and read. When the urge strikes, I’ll hop around and fondle holds, but I’m being extra cautious of climbing anything, for two reasons. One, a fall could be disastrous. Two, I’m taking this opportunity to give my elbow tendonitis some time to heal.
I had never seen the boulders of Red Rocks before, and it was fun to hobble around and add problems to my mental ticklist. Due to the holidays, we encountered many climbers whom we knew from the Bay Area and elsewhere. However, seeing dozens of people doing what I couldn’t was almost too much to bear. It’s like Vikki hobbling around a non-gluten-free bakery: the torture of temptation.
Still, it’s good to remind myself of what awesome climbs are out there. It would be easy to forget about climbing, to feel like my return is so far off that it doesn’t matter what I do now. Then I look at a climb like Americana Exotica or watch videos of Wet Dream, and I start thinking about how cool it would be to come back totally healthy and stronger than ever.
Unfortunately, my options for staying in shape are limited. Crutching around Gateway Canyon was quite a workout, though I do crave a form of exercise that doesn’t chew my armpits into hamburger and make my palms numb. While staying in super-cheap hotel rooms in Vegas, I was able to use the gym for the first (conditioning) phase of the Workout From Hell. (TL/DR: 8-10 lifts, 3 sets of each lift, 30 reps for each set). I’m also not using as much muscle as before, so my diet has changed a little to focus more on veggies (well, except for the two weeks post-injury, where I ate the hell out of whatever looked delicious). Soon, I’ll work in some hangboarding, so my fingers can stay strong while the rest of me recovers. Abs are also totally being targeted. Gotta stay cored up!
Living with crutches definitely puts a damper on what I can do. Running errands has become quite difficult, as I can’t carry anything and walk at the same time unless it’s in a backpack. I can’t help but feel a little useless. While it is nice that Vikki does all kinds of stuff for me, it would be nice to at least have the option of helping out.
On the plus side, people are generally quite kind and helpful. Some folks have experience with crutches, and they’ll relate their stories and give me hope for a speedy recovery. Dave Graham asked about my accident, then told his own story of his heinous broken ankle falling through a gym pad, and his subsequent recovery. Strangers open doors for me. In fact, I might even keep the crutches and boot for sympathy drinks at bars further down the road (just kidding…maybe?).
So what is it that I do, now that the driving purpose for this trip has been momentarily taken from me? There is a ton of media sitting on our hard drive that needs uploading, so that’s a big piece of it. We’re just starting the editing process for ZAP. I’m enjoying reading and learning in an open, unstructured way as well. For example, I learned about Hugh Herr, a climber from the 70s and 80s who lost both legs to frostbite, went on to establish hard sport climbs, and is now a pioneer of robotic prosthetics at MIT. I’ve been perusing edge.org, brainpickings.org, learning Blackjack strategy, and hacking away at Cadillac Desert. It’s good to get the ol’ gray matter moving again…and I totally do NOT miss the endless conversations about beta, climbing destinations, and all the other worn-out topics that climbers revert to when they’re around other climbers they don’t know well.
Today is our friend Sarah’s birthday. We’re going bowling. This should be interesting.
Way to stay positive, Spenser. You’ll be back in no time.
Thanks Liberty! I can’t pretend it doesn’t suck, but at least its a reminder that there’s more to life than climbing.
hey spenser! i’m a bit derailed from my own climbing trip – a nagging wrist injury, and my climbing destination in Laos that burnt down (don’t ask!) Instead I took the opportunity to come and explore Burma with a friend. An amazing place that I wouldn’t have visited if fate hadn’t intervened. So here’s to flowing with the flow!
Thanks for the note Kush. I just checked out your blog, and I like your writing. Are you doing any rehab for the wrist? Either way I dig your attitude. Gotta go with the flow!
Spenser, while I would have preferred to climb with you while we were down there, your presence and attitude considering the forced break was inspiring in itself. I feel like so many people who play victim to the circumstances in life, could use a lesson in Spenser-optimism… now do some more abs and heal up safely!
Thanks Alana! Obviously I would’ve liked to climb with you guys too, but at least we got to hang again. It will not be the last time either. Best wishes for the new year!