Thank You Tomaz Humar

I’ve been reading this excellent book about a historic, tragic, and controversial modern climbing legend Tomaz Humar.

Last week I did a great toprope solo ice climb near home. The next day I fell down a flight of stairs in my own house, descending from my bedroom heading toward my training room. I was totally shocked and incapacitated laying in a huddle at the bottom of the stairs. I was dizzy for a day, and couldn’t bend or reach or pull anything. Even putting my socks on hurt.

I finally got in to see my doctor, who diagnosed at least one cracked rib in the rear, with some peripheral damage to my obliques and serratus, maybe some deep bruising in my intercostals. Could have been a lot worse I suppose. He did say that due my relative “youngness” compared to my age, and my excellent health, I had a great prognosis. But he did warn me about beginning training too soon, and recommended 4-6 weeks before returning to my current activity level.

This overlapped with my planned trip to Aconcagua, and after some heartfelt soul-searching, I cancelled Aconcagua 2012. I went into a little funk for a few days, and have started very slow treadmill walking and Ski Erg training just to flush blood and chemicals through my muscles and joints to aid in my recovery. But overall, yeah. Down.

I have spent some extra time reading my book, and got to the chapter about Tomaz’s 3 meter fall into the basement of the house he was building. I was struck by the relative similarity. An alpinist struck down in his own house in a simple easily avoided fall. Wow.

“When you are ill you have one problem. When you are healthy you have many problems” – Tomaz Humar

I read about the severe damage and the pain he endured for months, his struggle to recover and rehabilitate, to get back into the mountains, not knowing if it was all over and the wheelchair, his “red Ferrari”, would be his constant companion for life. He was mis-diagnosed by his local surgeons, then referred to a clinic in Germany, where he was operated on repeatedly, and given a painful and strict training and rehab program. Almost exactly two years after his accident he summited Shishipangma, an “easy” climb, to test himself, and while he would never fully “recover”, he was back in action.

My little cracked ribs seemed so small in comparison. So I won’t be doing Aconcagua this spring, I will have to cancel a few other events and things. Have to take a month off training. It won’t be the first time. It won’t be the last. Time to plan new goals, new summits, new objectives.

I can make it happen, and be patient.

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