Weekend Whipper: When the Boulder Breaks

By Rock and Ice | November 24th, 2017

On July 29, 2017, Brian Koralewski went bouldering in Little Rock Canyon, in the Wasatch Range, UT.

At the end of his session, he made his way over to one final bloc he wanted to try, a V6 arete. “Too tired, and after several tries and only making it halfway up the boulder each time, I decided I was done for the day,” he writes on his blog. But he decided he’d do the topout of the problem once more to get it dialed for future burns.

“I stood on my pads and tick-marked the holds where I was going to grab and top out,” Koralewski writes. “Even though I was touching and marking the very chunk that would soon land on me, there was no indication that it was loose.”

As he pulled into the final moves of the topout, he suddenly found himself falling with a big chunk of the boulder on top of him: “The low point of the rock breakage is about 10 feet high.  The rock weighs approximately 300 lbs. I must have lucked out and got an indirect, partial impact of the rock. The falling weight/force of the rock on impact was about 3300 lbs.”

Koralewski landed on his pads. He writes, “After a minute of intense pain, I gathered my thoughts and realized that the remaining pain was all concentrated in my lower leg.  Looking down, I saw what I thought was my bone- it was actually my tendon showing.”

“There was no gushing blood, so I didn’t have any immediate concern” with regards to bleeding, he writes. After gingerly testing it he made the decision to walk out. The 1/4 mile hike back to his car, normally a five minute jaunt, took 25 minutes. Koralewski drove himself to the hospital, where doctors told him he had a partial tendon tear and a fibula break.

Nothing a little surgery couldn’t fix though. Eight weeks post-fall his wounds from surgery were healed up. Getting back to full strength will be a longer process, but Koralewski is psyched to get back out on the rock.

Happy Friday and happy Thanksgiving. Climb safe this weekend.

Watch last week’s Weekend Whipper: E.M.U.B.I.G.S. (5.13c/d R), Squamish, B.C.

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