Monday, June 12, 2006

6/12/06 Things NOT to do with your elbow

So after feeling rather accomplished with my first place in division results during Sunday's Valley Crest Half Marathon, I went climbing with some friends at an indoor rock climbing gym called Rockreation. Now my friends and I have been going twice a week to this gym for about 2 weeks now trying to build up our strength for outdoor climbing. Around 2:30pm, I started climbing a particular route that I've climbed at least FIVE times before which has a really nice crevice going all the way from the floor to the ceiling (25 feet or so) and is perfect for jamming your feet or hands into for nice secure holds. I was almost to the top when I couldn't find a suitable grip near the outer portion of the crevice, so I managed to get my entire left forearm from elbow to fingertips in just the right position deeper into the crevice for a really snug hold. That allowed me to move first my right foot to a good rock, then my left foot. So then it was time to remove my left forearm from the crevice and touch the ceiling indicating to my belay partner down below that I'm ready to be lowered. Only my forearm didn't move. Not even a fraction of an inch. I pushed it up, I pulled it toward me, the away from me deeper into the crevice, I pulled straight down, I twisted left then right. Nothing. No movement what so ever. I pulled so hard that I tore skin on both sides of my elbow. Nope, just wedged it in tighter. I started losing sensation in my fingers and they were probably turning blue, but they were so deep into the crevice that it was hard to see color. Meanwhile at least two little kids and one adult had managed to climb completely up and down the route next to me while I contemplated my predicament. Finally, the adult, on his second ascent noticed that I'd been in that exact same spot for quite some time and asked if I was okay. Using the most calm and discreet tone I could muster, I whispered that I was stuck. Then, in the most thundering voice I have ever heard, he immediately shouted down below to his belay partner, "SHE's STUCK!!!" And now every other climber, staff member and and anyone else within a two mile radius who had ears was directly below me. At least fifty pairs of eyes watched as a staff member made his way across the gym floor with a long fireman's ladder in one hand and plastic gallon jug of liquid soap in the other. But wait, the best part is that my friend Don was there. Don was at the Valley Crest Half Marathon and took a photo of me crossing the finish line earlier that morning. Well, guess who's camera still had film left when he dropped by the rock climbing gym?

It was a valuable lesson that I learned about where I should and shouldn't put elbows (not allowed on tables during dinner and not to be put in crevices when climbing, but okay if fighting in a UFC bout or if I want to play dirty in a hockey game.) I was only about 5 percent panicky, but mostly about 95 percent embarrassed. Of course, now I have a really funny story to tell. So far, the few people I've told have all found it HILARIOUS. Each time I tell it, I'm definitely going to embelish! For instance, next time there will be at least THREE HUNDRED other climbers who stopped what they were doing to watch the rescue.
Warning: Photos are posted below. Please refrain from suffocation due to excessive laughter and keep your elbows where they belong.

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                                     Are you really stuck?      

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                   Sending the ladder. 

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       Sir, this rock looks dirty. Could you send up some soap please? 

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                         Free at last! 

2 comments:

Lorenzo Gonzalez said...

Great story - well told and with an important lesson: that's definitely something NOT to do with your elbow.

But what SHOULD you do with your elbow? How about stick it in your belayer's ribs after he refuses to let you down, when you KNOW you can't POSSIBLY finish the route - thus forcing you all the way to the anchors despite your throbbing, pumped forearms and uselessly clawing fingers...

Of course in your case, Angela, you don't really need your belayer to drive you. You've got more than enough personal drive to fuel the whole frikkin' gym. Inspiring, yes. But also a little scary. [wink] Just don't start swinging those elbows into any cracks! Especially mine!

Anthony Manniello said...

well, if you take up scuba diving, an eel will help you get unstuck from a crack!