Bummed. wtf.

Warning: bitchy Canadian about to get personal. For more inspirational blogs click here. Otherwise, keep reading.

Now, I have no reason to complain.  At all.  My life is truly wonderful, I Love where I live, I Love what I do, and I Love who I’m with. I think that’s saying something, there have been times in my life and the lives of my friends, where we’ve only had one or two of these things going for us, and even worse times when we had none.  So why the pissy mood?  Honestly, I don’t know exactly, maybe because it’s Christmas, maybe it’s because I have a whole in my sock, or maybe it’s because it’s slashing rain outside and we only get 6 hours of daylight right now, if you can call it that.  But between me and you, I think it’s because I’m climbing like shit right now.  What’s a climbing blog for then, if not to rant?  I’m tweaked, bear with me…

Just over two weeks ago, I returned home from my A.R.M (appendectomy recovery mission) feeling on top of the world.  Nov 1st – Nov 29th.  During that time I had my 30th birthday, went to Colorado and Utah and I was climbing with zest.  I had quickly ticked a number of mid 13 trad climbs, and on-sighted a good number of other 13 sport climbs.  I wasn’t in project mode, but being outside almost every day, being with friends and ticking off some super classics felt great.  Then during my last few days in Moab, I was lucky enough to snag this unbelievable climb called Prosthetics, 5.13d, Mill Creek.  I was pretty stoked.  Since doing the second ascent of this Noah Bigwood ubber classic in 2006, my dream for the last 3 years was to return and do it on gear.  Retro-Trad.  I finally made it back to the area, and sent, and it was amazing.  There was snow on the ground, sun in th sky, the rock was clean and sticky, the crimps felt like razor sharp ice,  the line was pure, the run-out was terrifying but the gear was solid.  I was beyond PSYCHED.  It was probably the coolest thing I did on a rope this year.  Here’s a Burr pic.


A fool and his power are soon parted.

So, I come home and start ‘sessioning’ in the gym, I felt light, strong and mobile.  I watched some Paxti videos (who’s recently injured his shoulder) and I went into the co-op nearly everyday, building on the momentum of my last trip.  I even went out and bought a weight belt.  I was about to break through, I could feel it.  Then I woke up about 10 days ago and my elbows hurt.  IDIOT.  I took some rest, 7 days, and they didn’t go away.  I hardly ever get elbow pain but when I do, I’m not impressed, who would be?   It strips the mojo from our body’s, AND we have to do more push ups, Arrgh.

So, I go back into the gym 3 days ago and I can’t pull on anything.  I mean NUTHIN.  My shoulders are tired, my elbows hurt and I’m beginning to feel sorry for myself.  On top of it all, I went back country skiing  yesterday and now today my lower back is so tight, I feel like I’m wearing a meat corset with spikes.  My body doesn’t twist, it moves in one giant aching shield of pain.  I need more yoga.  Doesn’t everybody.   ha.  So I have this friend in his 40’s who told me it’s “probably just an old injury that’s just catching up with you, saying hello, it’s nothing you’ve done recently, just an old flare up, I get them all the time”.  Well, he may be right, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m in a bad mood, and this isn’t some story I’m laughing about 3 years down the road, this is right now, I’m laughing at the ridiculous state I’m in, RIGHT NOW.  I’ve got ice on my elbows, ice on my back, Advil in my pocket and I’m like – What the fuck?  Where did this disaster come from?  My girlfriend comes home from work and starts giggling because she’s got this crusty old man on the couch up to his tits with ice packs.  It’s classic.  I’m only 30, can’t I withstand a month of constant climbing?  Sure I can.  But perhaps I got carried away.  Here’s how…

Truth be told, the aches in my elbows started the morning after I strapped on the weight vest.  I campused up the wall and back down again, 5 times, on top of some other stuff.  Super bad idea, I know, but I couldn’t help it, I felt invincible.  I wasn’t.  I never will be.  Stop fooling yourself fool.  But I did it anyway and I paid the price.  The shock load one puts on their elbows coming down (without footholds and an extra 20 pounds on your body) is extremely severe.  It’s never, ever a good idea to do this, ESPECIALLY if you haven’t built up to it for several months at least.   Going up is okay, the body can handle that, if you have enough power to make the move, that’s your gauge, if you don’t, then you won’t make it and you’ll fall off, simple, no harm done.  BUT, when coming down, you shock load the system, you shock load the elbows and shoulders and fingers, like dropping a weight onto a static cable, multiplying forces exponentially and this is rarely recommended.   You may get away with it for a while, and you might even get a bit stronger, but it’s such a fine line between progress and regress.  Please be careful when doing dynamic movements with extra weight.  I learned this lesson a long time ago, but my confidence got in the way of reality again, and just like President Bush once said, “Fool me once, and it’s your fault.  Fool me twice and….uh……uh………”

To wrap things up, I have no idea how long this will take to pass, this funk, but I tell you it wasn’t worth it.  When I get it back, hopefully after the holidays, I’ll be smarter than this.  I actually feel better already, just writing about it, like I’ve reinforced something I already knew.  I know the rules, they’re common sense, I just thought I could bend them a little, but there’s no hurry, we now have 50 year old climbers sending harder than they ever have before.  If you stay healthy, and avoid stupid mistakes, then we can all be climbing 5.15 in ten years.  There’s no rush.  Take your time, enjoy the ride.  I have to go change my ice pack, this one’s getting warm.  Or maybe I should take the plunge, like this guy…


  • Mike who said hi on Pearl Street

    Fish oil will help fighting inflammation (something like around 2000mg of DHA and 800mg for EPA) and seek a good A.R.T practitioner – works wonder on me, might work for you too!

  • Scott

    Sonny, I hear ya man. I broke my leg 8 months ago and oh man you sure get taken down a few notches after something that bad happens. I always felt invincible, like nothing bad would ever happen to me. Well it did and its way worse than I could have ever imagined. I am looking at a 2 year recovery according to my doc. Can’t changed what happened, just got to deal with it and press forward without looking back too much.
    Hope you get your mojo back. I like to read your blog. Its one of the best out there.

  • Ring dips, mang. Whenever my elbows flare up that does it for me.

  • Suradetch

    Nice rant Sonnie. I like how you said there’s such a fine line between progress and regress, but why are you feeling bad for yourself if you’re not climbing well because you have tweaked elbows? An injury doesn’t neccesarily have to mean regress. I think progress comes in the realization of what you did to injure yourself in the first place. So, in a way I think you make some mental progress with injuries in order to not repeat the same mistake twice. Although, there are times when some of us get carried away with overconfidence when we’re feeling strong and repeat a dumb mistake. We’re only human right? I think I got carried away myself when I injured my left mid finger about two weeks ago. I will definitely be changing my game plan and be more methodical in my climbing/training from now on, because I want to be sending hard when I’m 50! I can’t help but think that injuries from overtraining or overclimbing are like a slice of humble pie. It makes us feel stupid and brings us back down to reality by taking away that illusion of invincibility. What’s done is done and all injuries, big or small take time to heal, so I just try to be patient and do what I have to do to help with my recovery. I say take the plunge like that guy. Don’t forget to take a picture.

    Maury, what are ring dips?

  • luke

    Dave Macleod seems to have a good way of getting through this sort of thing while getting some climbing in at reduced intensity. You’ve probably seen this already but just in case here’s a link:


  • geck

    The body is only temporary, man. The more attached you are the it, the quicker it gives way.

  • i sometimes feel that injuries have happened just to slow you down a bit. i’m sure there is an extreme level we rarely touch, except in life or death situations, that the body can go to but, in normal everyday life or in self-propelled progression, the body would rather protect itself, so it’s tolerance level is lowered. i guess that’s what you’re training to do, push beyond your previous limit (i’m not sure what my point was now). i just deadlifted my best ever last night, but i’ve been working up to it over 3 months after a 5 month holiday from weight training. the first time i tried after the lay-off i spent a week with a glass back, that was when i realised my body wasn’t going to let me start where i left off, so i had to start at the bottom again.

    sorry for the epic comment, hope you get back to it soon and congrats on such a regularly interesting, inspiring blog. cheers

  • Danny

    Thats some cold shit….

  • Steve Traversari

    With age comes wisdom. And that fine line, it gets sharper all the time. Good thing you’ll have the wisdom to stay on it.
    Be cool,

  • COMPEX maybe can help you to cure the pain. Drink a lot of water and as you said, there´s no rush. All the best with the recovery. Stretch a lot. Peace out

  • Philly Cheese

    Its sort of funny but its as if you had written down the exact same thought process I went through in august, when for the second year in a row, I overdid my summer training for some sweet fall climbing payoff and tweaked my finger tendons! You just feel damned shameful because one minute there was peak form and the next you’re back to the beginning of the process. Sorta feels like playing Snakes and Ladders but with your fitness hanging on the line.

    Hindsight is a bitch, but one must make sure to remember the mistakes. Thats learning for you, painful but necessary.

    And once again, I must state that Mill Creek looks awesome! Good job on Prosthetics!

  • petey v

    I just started climbing last year at school, loved it too much and climbed too often. I started to feel some pain in my elbows as well but ignored it. Then this summer did some shitty labour with concrete all summer and could feel my elbows being destroyed. Now its been over three months of rest and i have noticed little improvement, my goal is to be climbing this summer in owen sound but we’ll see.

  • Dave C

    “meat corset with spikes” amazing post. Take that shit easy son, pushing it to the next level is tricky. Taking baby steps in your training will yield progression. It shows though even someone at your skill level and understanding is still learning. I find that inspiring because there is that much more for me to learn about myself and climbing. Keep us posted on the recovery, checking blogs and pulling on plastic is all you can pretty much do to stay psyched when Alberta is a glacier. Peace!

  • Matt

    Bummer. Though I am Impressed that I am not the only recovering injury case in the world (apparently the rest of them read your blog too!). Encouraging stuff from you and everyone else on here – we all have those times. The high of feeling strong, fit and invincible is a tough one to come down from, but Newton’s laws of motion seem to be just that, damn laws. I say bugger thinking about the “growth” that is supposed to come from the experience, embrace the misery, have a moan, listen to some blues or metal or whatever, eat some Ben and Jerry’s and let the growth sort itself out. Trust me, it is very cathartic.

  • Clint

    Sonnie I feel where you are at! I trained all Summer here since i was busy working my ass off at our lodge and couldnt get out. Spent the summer dreaming of the boulders in jtree . We had 2 months planned there and Carlsbad for Yoga. First day there, third problem, slipped off the top out and fractured my heal bone. DONE. Should have had the pad in a better spot. Thought more carefully about the topout etc etc. I honestly thought i had it though and in a spit second I was on the ground. Was pretty bummed out for a day or two then just decided to accept where i was at and started to work from there. Been reading a ton of books I never had time for, been hangboard training and doing a modified yoga series. Can put a little bit of weight on the toes now so the one leg kinda works like a kick stand. I was so happy when i first did that! The things you take for granted. So yeah i guess life is like that. 3 steps forward, 2 steps back. You just cant give up. Gotta keep going. No matter what happens to you. Just keep going. Start from where you are and work from there.

  • Hey you are talking to the queen of injuries dude. I feel u. Just stumbled across your blog reading the latest deadpoint mag issue. Great stories and photos. It was nice to finally meet you in the Red, good to put a “face” to the name, not that I didn’t already know what u looked like ;o) Hopefully we will cross paths somewhere else someday and pull down on some bad ass rock climbs together. Yeeeeeah! Take care bud and keep on insiring!

  • Neel

    Not to bum you out more, but Blackberry’s stolen your “Do what you love, love what you do” slogan for their latest ad campaign. I’m thinking you should collect royalties, i hear that money solves all problems.

  • Pete

    Dude, I feel bad for you that you’re dealing with this. But I have to admit, it makes me feel good to know that someone with so much more climbing experience and ability also makes those kinds of mistakes. Hope you recover from it soon and learn from the experience better than I seem to.

  • Dino

    Sod it, at least you got Prosthetics done first. Looks like an amazing route, one of the best lines I’ve seen.

  • Stoked for Solstice!

  • tim

    a hot/cold soak speeds recovery of soft tissue a lot. Boil a brew of ginger root and comfrey root or leaves for ten mins., cool till you can stand it and alternate with ice water. The hot brew is good for at least ten soaks. Painful, but it really works. Always end with the ice soak. If you can manage twice a day, recovery will come quickly. Just be careful not to push it too soon after things feel better. good luck

  • chris

    I’ve had the same kind of issue with pain right behind my elbow when I was training or climbing really hard with little breaks in between. Then I found out that some of it was to much pull motion and not enough push to balance it out. Balance is everything. My pull muscles got stronger but my push muscles weren’t getting used enough, so they got overwhelmed. I took a week off of doing nothing climbing wise, which if you haven’t noticed, is really really hard. But then, I started doing a little specific weight training to my tricep for another week. Dips work the best, push ups not so much. But Now I’ll do 50 dips twice a week, and haven’t had a problem yet.