When it all comes down to it, the last few months have been really tough. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the last two years with injuries and psych as a result. I’ve had two pretty major injuries in the last few months. The worst part is that I have been climbing at just about my peak before each of the injuries. The first injury happened during the fifth round of the NBLs at CityROCK in Johannesburg.
I was just hitting peak form again and was really psyched. I was at the gym 4 days a week and really focusing on my strength. I really felt like I was unstoppable.
When I hurt my hamstring was really upset. I remember the sound. It reminded me so much of the day I tore my knee! It really scared me, I felt completely faint and the more that I was asked if I was ok, the more I knew I was not. I remember lying on the floor at CityROCK for what felt like hours. Eventually I conceded and called Yvette to come and get me.
For the next two weeks I could barely walk. I could really not sit for more than a few minutes without being in terrible pain. The only saving grace was that I could have physio twice a week and start to feel human again. I got quite upset with everything around me and was cursing my luck.
Injuries never come at a good time. At least this one was not so bad, 5 weeks off wasn’t terrible. Got some time to focus on work and to play with some of my photography skills.
I traveled to a few places while I was still sore, including Blyde River and Boven. I had a lot of fun trying out some long exposures on my camera and it was a decent distraction. South Africa keeps reminding me that it is really an amazing place to live, at least in the terms of the natural beauty around us.
Once I could think about climbing again, you would think I took it nice and slow right? Wrong. First thing I tried on rock was Shear Force (8c). At least I took it easy and didn’t push myself too hard. The idea was to be there for Andrew more than anything. He’s hitting the very last hard move on the route before coming off, so I wanted to be there to help with the psych.
Since then I’ve been back in the groove of things. Got in some trad climbing on an amazing project that will be 7c or so, about 50m+ in length. Could maybe do it as a single pitch but will be damn hard. Need so much gear to make it to the top.
We had such an interesting approach to get to the climb but at least it was out of the sun.
Managed to onsight a sketch 6c+(R) the same day. The was fun, I guess. Normally I’m not too happy about a 6c+ onsight, but when you’re scared shitless on the way up and you control it to the top, it’s worth writing home about.
I managed to recover pretty much completely from my hamstring injury. So since then I’ve been getting focused.
From April Choss season wass open again. I’ve been on Shadowfax (8b+) a few times again, already linked to the crux move on my second day on it. Have done the crux to the chains and I think I’m in with a chance in the near future. Going to make sure I get it done this year! Here are some pics from Zele Angelides from a few years back. I fell off last week at the point in the last pic.
I even got some beautiful new clothing from Outward Ventures! Thanks so much guys, I can’t wait to actually get some good photos for you with me in the new stuff from Wild Country and DMM. Big thanks for the helmet and new shoes as well! Been amazing.
The good news is that I’ve really been able to get myself back into a great training regime. Over the last few weeks I’ve been averaging 3 hangboard sessions and 4 climbing sessions during the week and then both days on rock!
As a result, I got a high point on Sheer Force (8c) in Boven. I’m linking up to the last move in the crux at the top. Unfortunately, that move is extremely hard on its own which means I have a lot of work to do before I’m going to tick it! But I’m so excited and motivated I’m sure I’m in with a chance.
After all of this positivity, I was climbing at CityRock JHB and I twisted my knee. I’ll tell you what. After the latest injuries, I’ve become hypersensitive towards injury. When I heard my knee pop (twice) and I my face turn pale and white, I knew something went wrong. I was really worried that I tore my ligaments, now in my other knee!
I was bleak. IMMEDIATELY. The thought of losing another 9 months when I was just about to do my first 8c was devastating. For a few days, I was struggling to get out of bed. I made an appointment with my surgeon and found out that it was probably a meniscus tear. He was pretty surprised when I was celebrating. But, the timeline for a meniscus is a few weeks versus a few months for a ligament. Big win.
I had an MRI as few days later and within two weeks, I found out that I had a grade 2 sprain of the popliteus tendon. It was such a rare injury that it was barely visible. I asked what the next step was and the surgeon told me, “Don’t do anything that hurts. If you re-injure yourself, I’ll take your photo off the wall.” We had a bit of a laugh, especially after I suggested I could give him a second photo. BUT! The point is, I’m ok. No time off, other than the two weeks between the injury and the diagnosis.
Up next for me is a new level of psych and travel. This weekend I’m in Fernkloof, trying to wrap up some old projects. Next week, is Wow Prow to try to finalize Future Life (8b). Then Boven for a few days and Rocklands, Montagu and Oudtshoorn after that. A friend of mine from Austria is coming to South Africa to join me on the trip. Her name is Claudia Ziegler, author of The Young Savages. She is a world-class photographer with cover shots from Rock and Ice. Claudia has spent time with some of the best climbers in the world and shared their stories with the world.
I’m excited to have the privilege of showing her around South Africa at the end of June!