Rock Climbing

Falling from 10ft hurts

I’ve written quite a lot of late about Cisco equipment, Windows servers and Website Optimization. I wanted to take a break and write up a recent rock climbing accident I was unfortunate enough to have.

A group of friends and I were climbing at Worth Matravers, we arrived fairly early (10am) and had a successful morning. I had led two routes and friends proceeded to top rope them. We had all struggled on route two on our last visits so it was a real buzz leading it on my first attempt that day. The third route we attempted was a tricky overhanging route with lots of lose rock. After a few failed attempts each we decided to move onto a fourth route.

The new route had a tricky start, the bolts were more spaced out than most of the other routes. It was probably 10ft to the first bolt and the same again to the second. A friend attempted the route before me and had clipped the first bolt but been unable to climb higher. I was one of the last to attempt it and reached the first bolt. Trying to move on and up to the second bolt I found myself unable to, looking down my shoe had got caught in the quickdraw.

For those unfamiliar with climbing shoes, they typically have a loop on the heel to allow you to pull the shoe off. This loop had somehow become clipped into the quickdraw on the first bolt. Holding on, I tried to wiggle my foot in such a way as to un-clip. I failed. After a few attempts I called out calmly “Guys, my shoe has got clipped to the draw”.

I managed to bend my shoe back in such a way that half of my foot was out of the shoe. Because of how tight climbing shoes fit I just couldn’t get my foot out. I called out again, a little more concerned this time “Guys, Help”.

At that point, I was focusing on holding on as much as getting my foot free. My arms were pumped and I was rapidly depleting finger strength. One of the friends, Simon, began to climb up to try and help. He managed to get his hand on my shoe. At that moment, I fell.

Falling, It’s an unusual feeling. For a split second I was aware of the cliff passing by very quickly. And then a loud crack as my helmet hit the rock covered ground. I was dazed for a second or two and then aware of friends standing around. Kane instructed another friend, Bill, to untie me. I started wiggling fingers and toes to check they worked. They did.

I lay there for a few minutes to make sure I was OK. Simon had me wiggle my fingers again to make sure I was actually wiggling them, and checked I wasn’t bleeding from under my helmet. I didn’t consider for a moment that just because I thought they were moving that they might not be. I asked for water and spilt most of it over my t-shirt. Looking at the cliff that had claimed my pride, my shoe was still attached.

I eventually stood up, with help, and removed my harness and helmet. Thankfully, aside from being sore I was able to walk out.

A day or so later I decided to go and visit a doctor. I had some back pain and was advised to get it checked out. I broke a rib or two (the doctor said there was no point doing an x-ray as they can’t do anything anyway). In hindsight, I should have gone straight to Accident & Emergency to get checked out.

I’m still figuring out how to prevent this happening again, in the mean time the loops on my shoes have been closed up and I’ll likely buy a pair of Velcro shoes next time.

Published by

Dave Hope

Dave works in IT for a leading UK based retirement developer, in his spare time he enjoys tinkering with technology and rock climbing.

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