06 February, 2019

Injury, Recovery, and a Retrospective of 2018

It is such a shame that the year where I had plenty of trips I could have written about, I apparently forgot how to use a keyboard. (For anyone interested, I plan to post the Cliffnotes for 2018 at the bottom of this post.) Actually I started countless posts, and just never finished them. What a perfect way I could view the whole year of 2018. The year started with me blowing through my climbing goals for the year before the end of March. I also began tearing through additional goals I set for myself and my Kayaking goals for the year. Unfortunately, as my paddling season came to an end, and I began to rededicate my time to get in shape for climbing, I partially tore my right Achilles. It took some time to piece together how it actually happened, but as anyone who knows me I have injured my right ankle multiple times over the past few years, and after multiple rather large ground falls (missing my crash pad) throughout the year I think my ankle just started to become weak. In retrospect I can remember a few times when I would be heel hooking on my right heel, and it would be excruciatingly painful. But, funnily enough, I didn’t actually tear it climbing! On October 14th, I met a friend, Nick, at Wilson Creek for a couple laps at +6”. After our two laps, we were walking back to the car on the stairs that lead up from the riverbed, and with my 50lb kayak on my right shoulder I stepped on an uneven step and immediately thought I had messed my ankle up, but I could still walk just fine. My heel just felt bruised, like it had almost a year prior when I fell 18ft off of a boulder. Two days later at work I realized I was having trouble walking, and slowly began limping throughout the day. That Wednesday when I woke up, I couldn’t walk; I couldn’t weight my foot at all. Thus began a long, and ongoing recovery process. I spent the next two months in a walking boot, and roughly an additional two months in Physical Therapy. I still plan to schedule one more Physical Therapy session, but for the most part my tendon is healing nicely and my calf muscles are re-strengthening. There is still some residual scarring on the tendon, that is uncomfortable when pressure is applied, but other than that it feels pretty much back to normal, though maybe a little weaker. I on the other hand have gained some weight and gotten weaker during this process, so I plan on working hard over the next month or so to try to get back into shape before I miss the entire climbing season for the year! My resolution for 2019 is to get back into my climbing and kayaking shape, and hopefully take a step forward, but with my main focus on staying healthy.

Highlights From 2018

January 2018 In January I took a group of friends to Pilot Mountain, and sent Any Major Dude (5.11c/d). My hardest sport route up to that date! February Headed out to Dixon one weekend with Andy, and sent various problems. The highlight for me that day was Venom (V5). Required a lot of strength, and a whole lot more technique.
March The month started out at Crowders with Desperately Seeking Juggage (5.11b), my hardest Onsight to date. The next day we went out to Rumbling Bald to check it out. Managed to send Rotator Cuff (V5) in a couple attempts, as well as a fun party trick V5, The Campus Problem. A week later I headed back to Crowders in order to redpoint Welcome to Crowders (5.12a), my first 5.12! After another weekend at Dixon School Rd, where I flashed Shoulder Jam’s Sit Start (V5) I finished the month up at Moore’s Wall where I managed to send Proper Modulation (V6), my first at that grade, followed up with a fun send of Turd Slayer (V6).

At the third bolt for Welcome to Crowders (5.12a)

April The first week of April I went to Dixon School Rd Boulders 4 times, mostly after work before the sun set. I managed to add a lot of fun boulders to my ticklist that week: Razorburn (V6), Be Good or Be Strong (V5), Beelzebub (V5), Lance Armstrong (V4), Krill (V4), Lucifer (V4), Mephistopheles (V4), along with twenty other problems. A lot of the problems I sent that week, including Lance Armstrong, were highballs. Which was interesting, to say the least. At least I had my one little crashpad for protection. Some of the problems didn’t have grades, other had grades that seemed off to me. It’ll be interesting to see if a consensus is ever reached on some of these problems.

Shoulder Jam SDS (V5)
April ended with two more trips out to Moore’s Wall. The first trip I sent Big Up (V6) and Ribbed For Her Pleasure (V5). The second trip I hopped on Hustler (V5) and Stickman Left (V5).

Hustler (V5)

May Keisei, Hiroshi, and I went to Pilot to try to climb through the muggy conditions. That day I started with a send of the ultra classic Devil in the Whitehouse (5.10c/d). We then moved onto Mr. Henar, my first time on the climb I took a 35ft whipper. Was super thankful for the soft catch, courteous of Hiroshi. I only managed to send the 5.10c version, as I never managed to read the beta to get over the first large roof. My favorite climb of the day was Blind Prophet Lite (5.11b). Despite some questionable beta from Keisei, (aka climb completely direct and ignore all off the good holds - forcing me to use a shallow mono pocket), I managed to send a really unique climb. Hoping to get the chance to try the 5.12 version of this climb later this year. We then attempted to top rope Black and Blue Velvet. We were, for the most part, shut down. Only able to link a few moves at a time. May & June also marked the start of my paddling season. Started making my way out to the USNWC for some practice laps to get the rust off. July My first natural river of the year was the Ocoee. Spent a weekend out there to get to hit up the Middle and Upper Ocoee. Still one of my favorites! I also entered my first Bouldering Competition. Despite being sick I was really proud of my results, managing to climb my way into the Advanced category.

Alien Boof August Claimed my Personal First Descent of Wilson Creek at a staggering +10”. This trip was a blast, and I was super thankful Nick was cool to take me down. I’m sure he lowkey hated me before we finished the first lap. The second lap, once I knew the lines, was much more faster. Took my friend, Dustin, down French Broad Section IX at 2,400 cfs, for his first whitewater trip, with him portaging some of the larger rapids. A week later, another friend, Chris, went on his first whitewater trip down the Upper Green. Was thankful to have Greg on those trips, who was super helpful despite being his PFDs of those rivers. September Took Alec, Greg, and Stephano on the first laps of Wilson Creek, at -2”. A much more manageable level for one’s first descent. Headed up to the Middle Ocoee for a lap the weekend of the NOC’s GAF Weekend. After getting off the Ocoee, I managed to convince Alec and Mark to head over to the Upper Tellico for our PFDs. It was fun to scout and run a river without a guide. It had been a while since I had been on a trip like that. All of us managed to get our first waterfalls that day, Baby Falls!

Baby Falls The next day we hit up the Upper Nantahal for a couple of laps. (500cfs and 250 cfs) October Nick and I hit up Wilson Creek again, it was at +6”. This is also the trip that I tore my achilles on, ending my year of fun.

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