I was nominated by Liberate Wings to post one travel photo a day for the next 10 days. Each day I will share a photo and challenge someone else to do the same.
I also decided that though pictures say a thousand words… There’s always something more to the photo so enjoy each of the mini- stories of these photos over the next 10 days!
I don’t actually remember when I took this photo, except that I was being told not to because it was deemed rude by my partner. I figured if that was me, I would want a photo later to remember I survived.
Besides many other reasons this is one of the reasons why I am such a particular climber. I have high safety standards and I encourage those around me to do the same. If people are stubborn I just simply don’t climb with or around them anymore. I’ve spent nearly 2 decades working in emergency care and as proficient as I am to deal with emergency situations I’ve made it a point to not put myself in high risk situations to avoid the first aid.
I remember, I just finished tying in. Ready to lead Gelatin Pooch 10a on Wall of Confusion. Suddenly I heard the worst sound any climber could hear. The sound of rope feeding way too quickly through gear. *ziiiiip* Shortly after another *Ziiiip* . Thud.
Silence. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I remember seeing the silhouette of a body falling and then hearing the thud. I started to run over but quickly realized I was still tied in.
I yelled “nobody touch her!” And I untied my figure 8. The climbing party was only two climbs down from me and as I approached I could see her partner trying to lift her and I told him to stop! He was hard of hearing and someone had to pull him away.
I walked around her and told someone to call 911 and asked her not to move. She was dazed but conscious. I introduced myself and told her help was on the way and it was important she tried to stay still , as I knelt down and immobilized her head with my hands.
The first minute of the next three hours begun. Climbers are amazing. They are level headed and calm and decisive. In all other emergencies I’ve dealt with there’s always some hysterical bystander or someone who trying to overtake command.
I remember in this situation everyone seemed to fall into place and get done what needed to be done to ensure the comfort and timely rescue of this woman.
After assessing her vitals and getting someone to perform a secondary survey we learned that she was in the best case scenario of a fall. She was cognitive, could feel some pain and had sensation in her lower body.
All we had to do was wait. We passed the time talking and regularly checking her vitals. She even laughed at times. Except for the first couple minutes, she never shed any tears.
Her belay partner was definitely more of a wreck. I don’t blame him.
Besides the first few minutes the best thing this photo reminds me of is the attitude and grace of the casualty. She was so impressive by her calm and strength. It blew me away and I still think of it today.
In fact she was the one calming her partner down as he held her hand apologizing profusely with shuddered shoulders and endless tears. At first I attributed all this to the andrenaline but that wears off surprisingly quickly and throughout the entire 3 hours she was amazing.
We never know how we’ll act and react in times of stress, pain and emergencies. I just hope I’ll be as tough as her if the time ever comes. I sometimes wonder if I’d be that hysterical person screaming. Or maybe I’d be like James Franco in 127 hours. I don’t know.
All I know is that I think about this girl often. Pretty much every time I climb. And I think I hope I’m as tough as her if I ever hurt myself. Climbing.