Everything Real Big

By Bolt Clipping, Musings, Trip Journal7 Comments

For more frequent updates, video clips, and photos, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Also, there’s a little teaser clip at the bottom of this post. Enjoy! It’s truly hard to believe that we’ve been doing this travel/climb/document thing for over 3 years now. Year 1 was a bit of a dizzying doozy. Year 2 was when we first stepped into the world of semi-professional media. Year 3 was the year of Shit or Get Off The Pot. Year 4 is the year of Love. Jumbo Love. For the past 4 weeks, we’ve been living at Casa Mike in Las Vegas. Ethan, Georgie, Vikki, and myself are here with the main goal of going up to Clark Mountain and filming Ethan on what is arguably the hardest sport route in North America, Jumbo Love 5.15b. Side goals include Georgie sending 1000 Churches 5.13a, and myself sending Jumbo Pumping Hate 5.14a, both at Clark’s 3rd tier. What’s It Like Up There? Everything about Clark is bigger and badder. We are out the door by 8:30. It takes a bit less than an hour to get to the Yates Well exit, and another 30-40 minutes to drive the infamous 4×4 road to the parking lot. The Third Tier (AKA The Monastery, not to be confused with the several other crags with the same name) is less than a mile from the parking lot as the crow flies, but the hike takes about 40 minutes. The first section is an uphill trail of increasing steepness, leading to the…

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Relationship Redux

By Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Trip JournalNo Comments

Spenser and I have been together for almost 6 years and living in a 6×10 foot trailer for the last 3. Spenser carries the heavier things, primarily drives the truck, and snags things that are out of my reach. I do most of the cleaning, organizing, and picking stuff up off the ground. We logically took on these roles, and this seems to happen in every relationship, romantic or otherwise. We all play a specific role in our jobs, our friend circles, our families. Whether you’re the black sheep, the prom queen, or the jokster – you fall into a role, you become an expert, you form habits, and build patterns of behavior – and, even if these habits make you unhappy, they are still hard to break. Like I mentioned last time, you get comfortable and you settle into your part. Some people are happy and fulfilled in this comfort zone, others (like me) are not. I believe that you are meant to play certain roles – for example, Spenser will always be able to reach higher than me, as I’m not willing to wear to 12 inch heels, ever. But, there are other roles that I don’t want to be typecast to, comfort zones I want to get out of. Because of this, when we left for Spain, I had high expectations for myself. I didn’t want to relinquish myself to playing the part of the stereotypical bouldering fanatic who was terrified of sport climbing, and swore off ropes. I thought I had trained diligently and was ready to kick…

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Les Gets Lessons

By Musings, Road Trip Beta, Trip JournalOne Comment

As Spenser mentioned, we easily fell into a tranquilo rhythm in Spain. We certainly packed a lot in with filming and climbing, but there was never a rush. Maybe that’s why we missed our train to Bellegarde, France last Friday morning. We left our Cornudella apartment with plenty of time. We stopped for coffee with more than enough time. As Spenser went to go order a second round for him and Ethan, I felt a slight pull to leave. That old nagging feeling that we’ve got somewhere to be. Chug those coffees and let’s get out of here, I said with little urgency in my voice as I moseyed to the bathroom, not realizing that those couple minutes would make all the difference. Sitting in Barcelona traffic at 7:30am, the apprenhension began. Still sitting in Barcelona traffic at  8am, we realized we really f’d up. We arrived at the train station at 8:23am, the exact time they closed boarding for our 8:25am train. In preparation, we had said our goodbyes to Ethan in the car and we ran to the gate…both knowing it was likely futile. An hour and too many Euros later, we boarded a train to Paris. Both of us hate throwing money at a situation, but sometimes that’s all you can do. I was not willing to miss seeing my best friend since middle school get married, especially not because of our stupidity. After 13+ hours and a couple chocolate croissants, we arrived in Geneva exhausted. Neither of us slept much the…

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Projects, Projects, Film Projects

By Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Trip Journal2 Comments

The region of Catalunya is like a limestone analog of the US Southwest’s sandstone landscape, with flat-topped mountains guarded by sheer cliffs, a Mediterranean climate, and tall pines in place of diminutive pinyons. The result is a less dramatic but far more intricate topography, made more marvelous by the traces left by myriad cultures throughout the centuries. Wandering the harsh landscape around the Four Corners fills one with a sense of desolation. Driving the pleasant and hospitable countryside of Tarragona fills one with a sense of calm and well-being. Both have ample evidence of ancient human habitation, the former of the Stone age and the latter of every age from prehistory to the present. Above all, the Spanish countryside feels tranquilo. We have fallen into a rhythm here. We wake and make coffee, not too early and not too late. James Lucas, who sleeps on the couch, usually gets out earlier than us. We might do a little work in the morning, we might walk around the corner to the bakery and produce market where our California Spanish facilitates simple transactions and friendly smiles (Catalan is a complete mystery to us). We eat simply and generally healthily. When we feel ready, we pile into a small car and drive on small roads to Siurana, a small distance away. We warm up, we climb. We enjoy the spectrum of color as the sun sets over Cornudella de Montsant, and we pile back into the car to reunite with James. Sometimes we meet friends at one…

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Spain, Day 1- Star-struck, Awe-struck.

By Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Trip JournalNo Comments

Day 0- Awake at dawn; an empty international terminal at SFO; some hours to Newark; some more to Barcelona. We’re damn good at road tripping, but flying internationally is a whole ‘nother story. Spain, we’re coming for your limestone!!! Eventually!! A video posted by @thervproject on Feb 20, 2015 at 4:06pm PST Somewhere in there we watched Boyhood, which is not to be missed. Bleary-eyed, we got stamps in our passports and stumbled to baggage claim. I had to lie down on the floor, after virtually no sleep and 12 hours in an upright and locked position; some friendly Spanish airport police checked on me to make sure I wasn’t passed out. I suppose we looked haggard. No sooner were we deposited in a foreign land – my California Spanish feeling clumsy in Catalunya – than we run into a Chattanooga foursome in the airport café. Shortly thereafter, we are greeted by Ethan, who’d just dropped off Ben. It was a smooth handoff of Americans. 2 cafés con leche, a trip to the biggest grocery store I’ve ever seen, and a 90-minute drive later, we arrived in Cornudella De Montsant. Keeping our eyes open was difficult. We slept for most of the afternoon, I went for a run, we ate a gigantic bowl of salad, and slept for another 10 hours. Our first full day in Spain was a Sunday. The sun shone, the air was cool and breezy, the oatmeal laden with chia and hemp seeds. James Lucas, who rounds…

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Fighting the Fear, Part Deux

By Bouldering, Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Interior, Trip JournalNo Comments

I have so many emotions when it comes to Bishop. It was one of the first places I ever climbed outdoors and it hooked me. I had been climbing for less than a year and Bishop made me truly fall in love with bouldering. The boulders are tall and scary, but the landings are flat and the approaches short. And the backdrop. It’s just an incredible atmosphere out there. It can also be chossy and grainy and sharp – and I love all of it. After climbing mostly indoors for the past couple months and setting some new standards for myself, I was ridiculously excited for our Bishop trip this past week. It was going to be as crowded as a Justin Beiber concert because of President’s Day, but we were going with a good crew and planned on just accepting the masses, or running away and climbing in more obscure locations. Before leaving for Bishop, I knew a few problems I wanted to get on, but nearly any problem in Bishop forces me to face my fear of falling. Spenser had mentioned that I should try the namesake problem on the Bowling Pin boulder. To be honest, I didn’t really take him seriously. I had a clear recollection of feeling like I was eons away from doing it last time I tried. It was decently steep, crimpy, and tall. Oh, and the nice slab finish. Ya right I did, however, realize that this was a perfect problem for me to project. It is within a doable grade range with…

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Planning the Training Plan

By ClimbingNo Comments

This is a piece I wrote for Mojagear.com (original here). Check them out if you need some gear, or just something to read to get you psyched to use the gear you already have. Last time, I mentioned that we are training for some fairly big goals. I’m going to gun for my first 5.14, Jumbo Pumping Hate at Clark Mountain, CA. Vikki is trying to take down the boulder problem that is largely responsible for how you and I see bouldering now: Midnight Lightning. She’s also trying to send Nat’s Traverse, a classic urban bouldering testpiece in Berkeley, CA. (The links for the latter two will take you to videos of the problems.) Before I start talking about the sets and reps and exercises, it’s worth a few words to explain why we’re training, and why we’re training the way we are. The Past I’ve been climbing for a little over 10 years now, starting when I was 19. Unlike the Ondras, the Megos’, the Sharmas, or the Raboutous, I didn’t have the good fortune to start climbing at a young age. While I’ve been lucky enough to avoid major soft-tissue trauma (I’m mostly talking about finger pulleys here), I don’t have the same natural tendon strength and flexibility as someone who grew up on the sport. Vikki’s the same, only worse…she only started climbing at age 23! When I started climbing in college, I fell in love with it and spent my time obsessing about how I could get…

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Fighting the Fear

By Climbing, Staying Healthy, Training, Trip Journal2 Comments

“Discomfort is a common barrier to hard work. Usually, hard work is unpleasant. In addition to the obvious aversion to pain and suffering that tempts climbers to give less than their best, athletes are also encouraged to “listen to their body” or “back off at the first sign of injury.” These pieces of advice, while fundamental and necessary, create a murky line that atheletes are reluctant to cross for fear of injury or wasted effort. The solution to this conundrum is for each athlete to incrementally push ever so slightly beyond their comfort zone, monitor the effects, and then analyze the results. If all goes well, the athlete can push that much further beyond her previous limits the next time around. Though it may sound complicated, this is relatively straightforward to do with diligent application of the previously discussed training principles and contributing factors. This methodical approach to progressive overload is the essence of this training program” – The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. Spenser mentioned that we’ve set some lofty goals. In my mind I’m like this: but I’m actually usually like this: Sigh. Fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of crossing the line. Fear of disappointing. That simple four letter word tends to hold each of us back in its own way. When it comes to climbing, I realized a while back that the fear of getting hurt (often exhibiting itself as fear of falling) prevents me from trying hard. Until now, I really never wanted to do anything about…

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Setting Goals

By Climbing, Trip Journal3 Comments

Wow, where to start? I sat down to write a blog post about what we’ve been up to lately, but there’s hardly any way to begin it because everything I want to address is linked forward and backward and sideways and it’s all exciting but still up in the air. Right now I’m sitting in the office of our friend Lindsey’s house, for whom we’re watching over things and collecting mail in Berkeley. We’re not far from Berkeley Ironworks, which is great because Vikki and I are working our way through the Rock Prodigy training program. This ain’t no kinda new year resolution, neither…see, we’ve got goals. We even spent several days in the gym in Chattanooga to get in our ARCing and hangboarding. Those goals I mentioned come with what I would call a good chance of failure. That’s why we chose them as goals, and this is not an easy tasks, some people need to get a iNLP Center lifer coach certification, life coach training, online training in life coaching, iNLP Center in order to set goals and understand how motivation works. Vikki’s goal is to climb Midnight Lightning and Nat’s Traverse (both very solid at V8). I’m going to skip 5.13b-d and try to send Jumbo Pumping Hate (5.14a) at Clark Mountain. Yeah! Sports-climbing! http://vimeo.com/117974391 That’s nothing compared to the goal of a certain someone with whom we’ll be traveling to Clark. The spark that kicked off our training was Ethan wanting to train for Jumbo Love, a route he’s tried in the past with some success. We…

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Spenser’s First Ascent in Bishop: Behind the Name “I Don’t Know Jack”

By Bouldering, Film2 Comments

Just over 2 years ago, I broke my heel by falling off of a tall boulder problem in Bishop, CA. Several weeks later, ambulatory but avoiding bouldering, I wandered up the hill from the Fly Boy boulder and toward the small dome that overlooks the rest of the main Buttermilks area. The guidebook indicates that there isn’t any climbing in the talus, which is why I’d never gone the additional 100 yards or so to the little peak. After a really neat arcing flake, I scrambled to the base of the dome proper, enticed by what appeared to be an easy solo-able route to the top. Upon closer inspection, the rock appeared somewhat suspect and the climbing insecure, so I traversed counter-clockwise toward the Peabody boulders until I had to squeeze through a little gap formed by some boulders. I emerged on a little patio formed by a flat granite platform encased on one side by a flat wall, and overhung by a sweeping 60 degree incline, blank but for one feature: a long seam running from the bottom to the lip of the overhang, with big holds on each end of it and a blank section in the middle. The top, visible from an adjacent block, appeared to have some holds too. The rock also appeared a bit suspect, which is, I thought at the time, why I’d never heard mention of this line, and why it appeared unclimbed. I mean, seriously. Bishop is synonymous with bold highballs. How could this pure, singular line,…

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An Ode to our French Press

By Musings, Stuff We're Psyched OnOne Comment

The alarm goes off. My eyes open, but I see nothing. With a flip of my hand, my beanie is gone and I am immediately aware of three things: I have crust in my eyes; it is time to get up; and it is frigid. Ah, the trailer life. Today might be the day after a rest day, and the conditions are going to be perfect for boulder crushing. Today might be a filming day, and we’ll be humping cameras and gear around. Today might be one of those housekeeping days, which we’ll spend in a public library or café staring at screens. I don’t care what day it is. What in the world could ever get me to throw the covers aside and forsake the only parcel of three-dimensional space in the known vicinity that is above freezing? You might think that classic boulder problems are motivation enough. Not so. If you can remember back to high school chemistry, you may remember a concept called “activation energy.” Before a reaction can commence, there must be an initial energy input above a certain threshold. Put simply, a fire needs a spark. Every morning I wonder what on our solar system’s green Earth could coax me from the cozy down cocoon, where I cuddle a tiny heater I like to call Vikki. And every morning, I need only turn my head to the right to see the answer to this vital quandary. Shining bright like a diamond, it sits proudly upon…

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Behind the Scenes of Alex Honnold’s Birthday Challenge

By Birthday Challenges, Climbing, FilmNo Comments

Damn y’all, 2014 is wrapping up. I am proud, excited, and honestly a little nervous to share the following video with you: Alex Honnold soloing 290 pitches on his 29th birthday. We shot over 3.5 hours of footage during the approximately 16 hours it took Alex to climb all 290 pitches. Since we can’t include it all, we’ll release a little outtakes reel soon, but I want to reiterate how much fun it was to shoot this day. Unlike a massive link-up or something like that, where the camera people spend all day getting into position for a few minutes of footage, Alex was on the ground almost as much as he was on the rock, bantering and joking and occasionally striking yoga poses halfway up a route. You can read the initial report by clicking here. And here are some more fun tidbits that didn’t make it into the film: The high in Squamish that day was 85°F/30°C, and the recent rains made for high humidity. That is why Alex did not wear a shirt between 5:20AM and 9:20PM, and why he is so sweaty and gross. 290 pitches in 16 hours is a little over 3 minutes per pitch. All day. If the pitches averaged 75 feet, Alex climbed 21,750 feet (over 4 vertical miles). The hardest pitch was #200, Red Nails 5.11c, which he onsighted. Alex consumed approximately 8 oatmeal cookies during the day. He said he drank about 4 gallons of water, but that sounds like a high estimate….

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The Crag Dog Blog

By Photo, Stuff We're Psyched On7 Comments

The hard-drives needed organizing. I needed a pick-me-up because it’s been raining for days. I love dogs and they make me happy. Spenser loves taking photos of them. I think that’s enough explanation. Imagine how gorgeous dogs would look in hoodies. Get a cute adidog hoodie and give your pet a makeover.

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What The Hell Are We Doing?

By Musings, Trip JournalOne Comment

Our blog posts have been sparse, our photography even moreso, and our list of ticks has not grown. What gives? What happened to the “climb all the time can’t-stop-won’t-stop” never-ending road trip? That, dear reader, is the exact question we are trying to answer. Since we got rousted out of Canada back in the beginning of October, things have been hectic. That was right after I hurt my finger, and in the midst of trying to finish the edit for Alex Honnold’s Birthday Challenge. We spent time in Bellingham, Salt Lake City, filmed one last Birthday Challenge in Joe’s Valley, and found ourselves back in Salt Lake for Halloween. We did not party; we quite literally hid in the dark while children tried to get candy from us, while trying to work on a timelapse for the Honnold video. I don’t read many productivity blogs, but I would wager that 0% of them advise constantly interrupting your workflow with travel, changing your work surroundings daily, and keeping irregular hours. It’s Not That It’s Not Working, Exactly… You know when you’re projecting a route, and there’s a section in which you can do all the moves and even link most of them together, but you just don’t see it all coming together, ever? And then someone points out that you can use a drop-knee on most of the moves, and suddenly you realize you’ve been climbing inefficiently and, frankly, stupidly? This is what we have been feeling like. We work hard, we try…

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Filming with FIXE Hardware

By Climbing, Film, Trip JournalNo Comments

I kinda look like I know what I’m doing, right?! Leading the second pitch of Exasperator was the culmination to my ‘summer of yes’ (saying yes to opportunities that presented themselves). Trust me, though, I felt far from comfortable up there. We met at camp early one morning and walked to the base of the Chief. Standing underneath the Exasperator crack was awe-inspiring. It’s a beautiful, perfect splitter. It’s a crack that even people who don’t enjoy climbing cracks, or who do not climb at all, can appreciate. James Lucas climbed up ahead to put up a fixed rope for Spenser to film on. Kevin Daniels, the owner of FIXE Hardware, Spenser, and I began to make a plan. Kevin turned to me, You know, that second pitch is made for little fingers… My heart jumped into my throat – I thought I would be filming today, not climbing. My ‘summer of yes’ had taken me far out of my comfort zone. I had topped out the Chief twice and gone on adventures that I never thought would be part of my reality. It had been an incredibly fulfilling summer, and I couldn’t back down now. “Yea, I would be willing to give it a go. Why not.” Oh geez, what have I gotten myself into. Up to that point, I had done a few long routes following my friends up the classics such as Skywalker, Diedre and Angel’s Crest. About a week beforehand I had split leads on a Skywalker and Diedre, but I had never…

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My Friends Are Awesome

By Musings, Stuff We're Psyched On3 Comments

I was once told that you are the average of your five best friends. It’s a cute saying and is probably quite accurate for most people, although it may speak more to humanity’s tendency to self-segregate. I’ve found that my friends tend to be on the more adventurous and quirky side, though to be honest I may have sought those friends so that I can be pulled up by the collective average. Over the course of our nearly three years on the road, we’ve encountered our fair share of adventurous spirits and inspiring figures. The ones that impress me the most, though, are the ones you and I have never read about. Sure, we expect the Wide Boyz to thrash themselves and then pull off a heroic ascent by the skin of their teeth, with much suffering along the way. But who wants to do all that without any sponsor dollars riding on it? Ryan Tetz does. He participated in an experimental bike race that had to be shortened mid-race so as not to kill all the riders (most of which dropped out anyway), and he was one of the only finishers. He’s currently in the middle of a 6-week hellstorm of hurt, 6 extreme endurance challenges in a row. He just finished pedaling his bike across Yosemite National Park, en route to Nevada from the Golden Gate Bridge. He started at 6:26 am in Marin, and reached the Nevada state line 27.5 hours later, braving, among other hardships, a nighttime descent of Tioga Pass with…

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Beware the Fake Ass Bloggers

By MusingsNo Comments

We are, to use the parlance of our times, psyched. We live on the road, we’ve met great people, and, like the shirts with the smiling stick figures, life is good. But that doesn’t mean we can’t complain. And since we really don’t do it very often, it seems fair to, every once in a while, call out certain behaviors that will ultimately result in us losing our psyche. Today, I’m going to call out Fake Ass Bloggers. This is a tear-down in the name of public service. The formula is simple. Privileged twenty-somethings get a taste of camping, or visit the Grand Canyon on a family trip. They like it and start a blog. Suddenly, a couple of strangers comment on their posts. Oh shit. Now there’s a following. Before you can blink twice, another social media hero is getting people PSYCHED to get outdoors! This would be great, if that’s where it stopped. But our outdoor hero is ambitious. Our outdoor hero wants some free stuff. Our outdoor hero wants more exposure. What’s wrong with that? you might ask. Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you. The outdoor industry is obviously keen to get as many people hiking and biking and climbing and eating 7-dollar-a-bag space food as possible. “Outdoor” is like the magic modifier that makes everything cost double.  You see, normal humans will venture off the pavement with whatever they normally wear and eat, modify it as they see fit, and still have enough money to stop at Whole Foods…

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Fun is Life and Death

By Birthday Challenges, Musings, The InteriorOne Comment

“I am deadly serious about us having fun” – Michael Franti, In The Middle I think one of the secrets to happiness and success is to take the non-serious things in life seriously, and the serious things less so. Or, since we are the ones who decide what is serious and what isn’t, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that one must allocate their gravitas wisely for the sake of happiness, and survival. Proper Seriosity Birthdays generally fall into the non-serious category. How many times have we “celebrated” someone’s unique, fleeting existence on this planet by sitting in a crowded restaurant, lucky to be within earshot of the birthday boy or girl? How many birthdays do we let pass with little more than a few cheap “you’re old now” jokes? Answering for myself: many. As a child, comforted, cared for, and complacent, my birthday was an occasion for gifts. As an adolescent, I craved little except simple, good times. My birthday falls during the summer, and more than anything I remember wanting my birthday to be more like any other summer day than any other summer day, which at the time meant 2 on 2 basketball, deli sandwiches, and MarioKart 64 (or sports on network TV). Birthday Challenges are the opposite. We take a silly day and make it silly hard, and we try like hell to complete some silly goals. We even train for them. Why? Well, that’s a very involved question, but a short answer might be, “to…

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Back to America, Back to Birthday Challenges

By Birthday Challenges, Trip Journal2 Comments

We pulled into our usual campground in Joe’s Valley, Utah in the wee hours on Thursday morning. We ended up staying in Salt Lake City longer than expected to finish some editing, and Katie was sleeping, curled up in the back of her white Scion coupe, when we arrived. “Should we wake her up?” “Absolutely” We knew we couldn’t wait. We ran and pressed our faces against the side window of the small white car. Unable to contain our laughter, we promptly woke Katie up and she squealed with joy as she unlocked her car and jumped out. This reunion was a big moment for all of us. We met Katie and her then-boyfriend, Niko, at the Food Ranch in Joe’s Valley in April of last year. They were in the midst of their year-long road trip and we became fast friends (an understatement, as Katie wrote in her post “suddenly we found ourselves huddled around a fire with strangers who would become family overnight”). They helped us film 5.10 vs. LaSportiva that Spring and we continued to meet up on the road as much as possible for the remainder of their road trip. We desperately wanted them to stay on the road so that we could continue to travel together forever…but, you can’t always get what you want. Katie is now persuing her career in the outdoor industry based in Denver, CO. Niko is managing the local climbing gym in Talahasee, FL. Things change, but our love for these two, together and separate, is…

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Hyperextension of the Volar Plate

By Gym Climbing, The Interior, Trip Journal5 Comments

You know the sound that is created by pulling masking tape off of a wall? That, apparently, is a pretty good approximation for the sound of tearing ligaments. It was on Sunday, September 28th that I got my finger painfully stuck in a slot, hyperextending the PIP joint of my left middle finger. I went down the dark rabbit hole of internet research, fully convinced that, at the least, I’d broken my finger and contracted ebola. On Wednesday, October 1st, I saw Dr. Vedder at the University of Washington Hand Center at the Sports Medicine Clinic in Seattle, WA. My close friend Evan, graduate of UW’s Physician Assistant program, recommended their clinic; he’d gone there when he injured the medial collateral ligament of the PIP joint of his ring finger (I think that’s what he injured…). I was checked in quickly, X-rayed quickly, and diagnosed within 45 minutes of walking in the door. I can’t really express how refreshing a breezy trip through check-in was. I knew I was in the right place when the nurse who took my height and weight remarked, “ah, another rock climber.” The X-ray showed this: Dr. Vedder tested my collateral ligaments and was not concerned about those, or that I had fully torn the volar plate (which would require surgery). He said I had partially torn it (which explains the tearing sound), and sent me off to the therapy room. It turns out that the key to recovering from this injury is movement. Scar tissue will tend…

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