It has been an INSANE couple of months these last 4-5 months for sure. I've been inured, healed, and injured again. I've climbed with badass climbers, and sat on my couch a lot. So i'll try and get ya'll up to speed on what's been going on.
So in April I was at the peak of my strength probably as a climber. My fingers were strong, my body fit, and my confidence was pretty high. I was in the habit of not warming up very well before climbing my hard routes, which is a recipe for disaster if you ask any rock climber. So I walked into the gym one morning, and hopped on a few V4s for a "warmup" and then straight to a V8. It was a pretty laid back Slab climb with a hardcore left handed crimp around an Arete. I jumped on it and closed my hand around the left hand crimp, fired up to the Right hand jug, missed and fell off. Thinking nothing of it I went to grab the wall to try again, and as soon as I touched the crimp, pain shot into my hand from middle finger. It was certainly the worst finger pain I'd ever had, and I knew right then and there that this was a tendon or pulley injury. It's kind of funny that directly after you've injured yourself your mind can accurately determine the exact thing you did to mess yourself up. It's like your brain's way of saying "See! if you just used me you'd be fine". Idk why i personify my brain is a vindictive person but.. it is. Fast forward a little and i'm in a finger and hand specialist doctor's office and he's telling me a partially tore my A2 Pulley. I left his office with his suggestion that I shouldn't climb for 4-6 months and a confused, angry mental state.
The next 2 months were pretty boring. I got re-aquainted to my xbox again, and learned a lot about how much climbing means to my life. I pretty much couch potatoe'd it up for those 2 months after my injury, feeling useless and boring the entire time. As the summer rolled around, one of my good friends came back from College and started working at the climbing gym again. I would go visit at the gym and talk with friends and mess around a little on the wall here and there but nothing serious. Going into the 3rd month of the injury I was climbing with easy routes with a carefully taped middle finger to try and avoid further injuring it. It didn't feel like it was getting any better but it wasn't getting worse either so I just kept climbing on it. At this time I also started hanging out with another climbing photographer from the Gym, Jimmy. We meshed pretty well and planned some trips with some friends to shoot some pictures.
Prior to my injury I had gone on 20 + Trips just this year, I was practically gone Friday thru Sunday ever week. Going into month 4 since my injury I FINALLY went climbing outdoors again in Austin, Tx. It was about 110 during the day and 85-90 at night, but I had a smile on my face the whole time. I've never been so happy to be drenched in sweat all day as I was that weekend. I hopped back on my old Project "Pay the Pump" and got about 5 clips into the route, still a proud send attempt for me for sure, having not trained or climbed in 4 months. I took some cool pics of new and old friends, and shared laughs and stories late at night. I was reminded why climbing means so much to me, it's not just the climb, it's the community and the relationships that come from it.
Just like that I was back. If I just didn't climb routes with a ton of left hand crimps, I could still climb relatively hard. Immediately after the Austin trip we planned another trip to Arkansas, back to somewhere I had been previously with my bro Matt, when he sent Super Collider (5.13b). Cowell, Arkansas is one of my favorite spots i've ever been climbing for sure. The wall is super aesthetically pleasing, smooth faces and dark, shadowy backgrounds. Makes my job as a photographer pretty easy since everything in the picture is already gorgeous. I was especially excited for this trip, not only to be doing another trip with Jimmy, but because super strong girl Marisa was going as well. She's definitely been on my list of strong Dallas Climbers that i've wanted to photograph for some time. The trip was awesome as expected, with lots of laughs, great climbs, and even better pictures of these amazing climbers doing their thing. I even hopped on the 5.12 warmup at Invasion wall again to check how I was doing endurance wise since I had been "back" for a month-ish. Overall this trip solidified my decision to start climbing again, even still injured I could avoid using my bad finger and still enjoy myself outdoors.
The last stop on the hype train for the last 5 months was the BAWS Festival in Dallas. BAWS stands for "Bad Ass Women in Sports" and it's a festival to celebrate all the kick ass women that fill the climbing and outdoor industry. The biggest part of this festival was that Hazel Findlay (Trad climbing superstar) & Tiffany Hinsley (A pioneer in women's climbing) would be speaking and teaching 2 clinics as part of the festival. I didn't hesitate when my friend and mentor Mario asked me to shoot the festival, who could pass up getting to hang out with some pros. What's always so surprising to me for some reason is how humble the professional climbers that I meet are. Hazel is a super chill person who was part of the crew for the weekend practically and I didn't even know that I was sitting next to Tiffany Hensley most of Friday, she's just quiet and laid back. It even turns out I would get to hang out with Hazel most of Friday and Saturday and got to know her a little, it was one of the cooler things i've gotten to do as a photographer for sure.
Of course it wasn't just Hazel who I was psyched on meeting from the Festival. The No Man's Land film festival coordinators were incredibly nice and actually very impressive climbers themselves. It's part of what I love about being a photographer for these events is getting to meet the people behind the scenes because they're usually very hard working, unique individuals. One of them, Kathy, was actually IN one of the films featured during the festival, where she shows how much of a badass crack climber she is!
Overall the past 5 months have been some of the most difficult & stressful months of my life so far for sure, but they've also taught me to appreciate my abilities and privileges in life. I'm so incredibly blessed to be a relatively strong rock climber and to have met the people i've met in the last 3 years of my life who've opened so many new doors for me. I can honestly say I would not be where I am today if it weren't for a few people who have looked out for me.
SO That's where I'm at as it stands right now. Still climbing, though still healing, still taking pictures, and still living my dream. More adventures to come soooooooon!! <3
if you wanna check out any of the peeps from the festival I'll link all their websites and Insta's here:
http://nomanslandfilmfestival.org - The organization that showed the films
https://bawsfestival.com - Bad Ass Women in Sports Festival
https://tiffanyhensley.com - Tiffany Hinsley's blog and website
http://hazelfindlayclimbing.com - Hazel Findlay's blog and website
http://escalandofronteras.org/en/ - Tiffany's organization helping at risk youth in Mexico
https://www.instagram.com/hazel_findlay/ - Hazel Findlay
https://www.instagram.com/tiffany_hensley/ - Tiffany Hinsley
https://www.instagram.com/nomanslandfilmfestival/ - No man's Land Film Festival
https://www.instagram.com/bawsfestival/ - BAWS Festival
https://www.instagram.com/zready/ - Roam Ready (Main Sponsor for BAWS Festival)
https://www.instagram.com/inheadlights/ - No Man's Land Tour coordinator, Kathy Karlo
https://www.instagram.com/aishaweinhold/ - No Man's Land Founder, Aisha Weinhold