Poor Position, Distracted, Fall On Rock

On April 2nd I was climbing an overhung 5.10 sport route at the Stone Gardens Bellevue gym. The crux of the problem is a series of reachy moves over the roof of the overhang and up the next overhung face to the top of the route (5’ above the roof of the overhang). I positioned my body as statically as possible at the roof to prepare for the start of the crux. I knew that the remaining series of moves required a continuous sequence were dynamic and reachy. As I reached for the first hold above the roof with a dynamic move, my left hand impacted a horn on the roof with great force. The force and surprise of the impact caused me to fall briefly onto the rope. I quickly regrouped and completed the sequence of moves. As I was being lowered by my partner, I noticed focal pain in the left pinky finger with minor swelling. At the time I believed the finger may have been broken, buddy taped it to it’s neighbor as a precaution, and stopped climbing for the night.

Subsequent investigation by Group Health Cooperative diagnosed a non-displaced avulsion fracture of the left 5th finger at the proximal interphalangeal joint.



I had climbed that route on the previous trip to the gym and knew that the crux was a series of reachy moves which required the body to be positioned closed to the wall. The preceding day at work had been especially stressful, and I was finding it difficult to remain completely focused on climbing – my mind drifted back to the events at work. I was clearly distracted as I started the sequence of moves, and the combination of the distraction, reaching for the move and “throwing myself into it” to vent frustration I unintentionally slammed my left hand into the roof of the overhang: breaking my left pinky finger.


About Shawn Murphy

I’m a Program Manager working on social networking features for Microsoft Zune in Seattle, WA. Outside of Zune, you’ll find me hiking, climbing, playing in the outdoors, and taking photos. Although I work at Microsoft, I’m not a Microsoft spokesperson. Anything I write on my blog or comments that I leave reflect my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions, plans or desires of Microsoft.

Posted on April 26, 2012, in Accident Report, Rock Climbing, Training. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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