Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day One

After our April 2008 walk, we kept dreaming but stopped doing. I met an amazing woman, and suddenly there was more to do on weekends than climb. Napoleon continued his relentless quest to climb all of the 11+ routes in Squamish. We tried Freeway (5.11c) together. Very hard, very sustained climbing well above gear, plus us being out of shape, plus cruxes being wet, added up to a massive ass-kicking. I went to Colombia for two months. Napoloen was in grad school. And so the line loomed in our minds.

Napoleon-- I will name him this, since he seems intent on conquering every trad route in Squamish, plus he is short, and very stubborn-- has been climbing for I am guess about five years now. He is from Ontario and come out West to do his M.Sc., from which he bailed for the greener pastures of commerce. Napoleon has climbed some 5.12 on gear, has done an aid-climbing course, and is rabidly enthusiastic.

I have been climbing for about 10 years. When I am in shape, I climb 5.12 on bolts and 5.11+ on gear. I ice climb and boulder a bit. In other words, I am at the very low end of climbing's middle class.

Anyway, we finally got on the damned route in Sept of 2008. I had borrowed a drill and aid gear. I had never aid climbed. We thrashed back up to the start of our route. It took me six hours to install four bolts. I had aiders clipped to my rack, my rack clipped to my shoes, and my head up my ass. I looked like a climbing scarecrow, with random tools attached to random parts of my body in wasy designed to frighten climbing-sentient beings. As I moved upward, I started to realise that the route was going to be much harder than we'd thought. We were aiming for a 5.11 pitch of face climbing to get us to what looked like a fine handcrack...but it was steeper, with smaller holds, and much weirder moves than we'd expected.

At around four in the afternoon, with Napoleon scrubbing below me and belaying me on a Gri-gri, my hooks blew, and I tumbled. A very very hard something smashed my shin, and when I came to rest, howling like a disappointed Canucks fan, there was a massive hole in my shin. Something like this:

Luckily I had some very fine goodies in my medical kit. I gulped a couple of tabs of morphine sulphate for the pain and a couple of Ibuprofens for the swelling. We collected our gear and hobbled back down to the car.

"You need to go to Emergency," said Napoleon. Visions of four-hour waits. We went off to the Starbucks to get coffee food and newspapers for the long wait. The bikers preening over their chrome machines and the baristas fiddling with steam knobs turned white when they saw me limping and dripping blood.

At the Emergency, I waited only two hours for the doctor to deal with two ATV rollover accidents, one bad trampoline landing, and what sounded like somebody with something very inappropriate jammed up their ass. When the virry nice Suth Efrican doctor dealt with me, he remarked on the relative safety of rock-climbing and asked my opinion on French Immersion for his kids, and shot me full of something that made me drowsy.

I drove home pretty miserable. Lala was in Romania, I could barely sleep, and the next day, despite gobbling a handful of morphine pills with my morning coffee, I could barely walk for the pain. And my back was killing me.

"You WHAT?" shrieked Lala when she saw the pictures (same as above) on Facebook. Her boyfriend was NOT supposed to come back with injuries. I got a staggering number of comments on these photos, and then Facebook itself weighed in by deleting them, citing inappropriate content. Well you can post links to videos of Iraqis being waterboarded, but you can't show a cut...hmm. Anyway I spent the next 3 weeks being 79 years old, hobbling around on a cane, out of my head on painkillers, the world soft cotton balls and groggy whispers away from my head.

But things healed up, Lala got home and was horrified when the stitches dripped pus and I pulled them out with tweezers, and two weeks later, I had the urge to get back on the horse.

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