Fingers

I’ve watched a number of friends getting injured while climbing and I’ve seen how frustrating it can be for them but I don’t think I ever quite realised just how frustrating it really is. I have a finger injury. Its the kind of injury that is a little embarrassing. It is not a big gaping wound or a plaster cast but is just as debilitating for a climber like myself.

I can’t brag that I did anything cool. It was just a cold day, I did my usual warm ups, perhaps even more than usual because of the cold, but as soon as I touched the icy rock my hands cooled off and started going numb. There was a fairly strenuous move and I felt something in my finger. Nothing intense just a mild strain, nothing that would make me stop climbing. I sent the route, one of the nicest 7bs I’ve done. When I came down I knew there was something wrong but it wasn’t bad. It was more like something that would be fine with some more warming up. After a few weeks the little niggle had become really bad. I took some time off, luckily this coincided with my exams so did not take much time out of my planned program. My training regime had been coming together really well and I was feeling a lot stronger than before. Routes that I thought were impossible were suddenly within my grasp. Now I have to redesign everything in an effort to preserve some of the fitness I have attained without injuring my finger further. My impending trip to Europe means that I cannot afford to be injured right now.

I asked my friend Dr Roger Natrass for some medical advice from someone who has experienced these injuries himself. He told me what my mother ( live in physio) had suggested: rest (which I did), tape (if I must climb), avoid crimps and use ice. Ice is easy and it has been really soothing. Picking up a coffee cup no longer feels painful but carrying grocery bags is still a no-no. The rest has been killing me but I managed to stay sane by taking photos of my friends climbing.

The photos are of Dylan Williams and Alexandra Williams. Dylan of the most enthusiastic climbers I’ve met. He was having a blast working Vampire (27/7b+) in the sun at the Canyon. Dylan admitted to me that he should have been studying for his maths exam the next day. I would also find it hard to study if I lived 5 minutes away from crags like this one. His sister Alex was enjoying some of the hard moves after her day at school and Jarred joined us for the afternoon after a day of work. I really love living in Durban, we are so fortunate.

Illona was in town and, as usual, I really enjoyed spending time with her. I’ve really missed having her in Durban but I am happy that she has followed her heart to Pretoria. If only she had her own helicopter we could still go off on mid-week climbing sessions. She also got on vampire while she was here.

It is really cool to see how strong she is at the moment. She climbs so fluidly and fairly quickly, making it difficult to get cool photos of her but great to watch. She made it through the crux which is a particularly reachy move for even the tallest people.  She came off on some small crimps near the top. She said she suddenly lost focus and her thoughts went elsewhere. I related to this, it is so easy to have a slight change in mindset. Fear creeps in or self-doubt niggles at you. It was really great to hear that she sent the next day. It is awesome that a year ago neither of us would have thought of sending a 27 in only 2 afternoons. Now it seems totally normal and in many ways quite satisfying not to be slogging away at things for weeks.Besides getting some pics some good has come from my bit of rest. I have spied some new lines that I am very keen. to bolt. I reading up on some things before I jump right into it since I haven’t bolted before. The line follows a gorgeous arête and will be quite exposed but beautiful. How exciting!

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