Back in New Hampshire, I was psyched to do some climbing at what could be considered my home crag- Rumney Rocks. I grew up 20 minutes from Rumney and have many best friends who actually grew up IN the village of Rumney (can you believe it?!?). It is where I climbed outdoors for the first time ever which some extremely friendly French Canadians who let me use all their gear because I had none. For these reasons it is my home crag.
Much of my climbing development, however, has happened over the course of a myriad of experiences in a variety of places across the American West (I include Canada in this term, “American” by the way, since Canada is technically a part of North AMERICA). So when it came time to return to my New Hampshire home for an extended visit, I was excited to tackle the crags that were responsible for my love of climbing with two new years of experience under my belt.
The glory of these moments, however, was short lived. I forgot that New Hampshire can be as humid as a rainforest and just as hot. These are not ideal climbing conditions. But aside from that, I somehow managed to sustain an injury.
I cannot honestly say how I got injured or exactly what was injured. All I know is that one morning I woke up with extreme pain running from the right side of my next down under my shoulder blade and echoing into my arm. I let it rest a few days, thinking that it would work itself out the way my physical pains tend to do. I woke up feeling a bit better the morning that Scott and I wanted to go out for a climb.
I was on the crux of a 5.9 at Rumney that had a really cool side pull/ fist jam move on bad feet that I had to pull pretty hard on to attain the next hand hold. As I bared down on the move, my thumb, pointer, and middle finger of my right hand suddenly went numb.
“Scott!” I said, “I think I just injured myself.”
“Really?” he asked, surprised.
“Yeah, I can’t feel my first three fingers. I think I’m going to fall.”
“Okay,” he said.
I let go and swung about eight feet down and around. It was a scary but good fall and once I had settled, started wiggling my fingers, trying to work out what had happened. Slowly, the pain that radiated down from my next started to return and I was hit with the knowledge that I really shouldn’t keep going.
It’s hard to stop. Climbing is a lot about getting through and pushing your physical limits to attain a goal. But when you get hurt, it’s better to do as Scott says and “Rest to climb another day.”
I threw in the towel that afternoon and fully realized that I needed to address whatever injury had occurred in my body. I spend the next four weeks going to the chiropractor and a massage therapist, religiously doing my Physical Therapy work and generally resting my neck, which had most likely attained a sprain. I never think about spraining my neck, but there it is.
I am now fully on the mend but still have to be careful about stretching and icing my neck. I feel fortunate that my injury was not worse. It’s tough to realize that I’m not infallible. My body has its weaknesses, and illness and injury are as real for me as it could be for any of us. It looks as though I’m going to have to re-learn how to climb, using my body in a different way.
I didn’t want it to get boring anyway.