It’s been a few months since my last post and I’ve been running into people at the crags and boulders who’ve been asking for updates. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who have themselves suffered labral tears. It seems this type of injury has grown more common among climbers lately, so I asked my physio about it -- she suggested it could just be that doctors are now better able to accurately diagnose such injuries. Check out a series of videos on shoulder health here   -- it’s updated every few weeks. If you’re in the same boat as me, all I can say is be patient. And please feel free to comment on this post; I'll do my best to answer any questions you have.

Back to my update: On the whole, the past few months have been good, but I’ve encountered a few big hurdles. After I fell down the stairs in Colorado and my MRI came back okay, I thought I was in the clear. Unfortunately, I wasn’t.

Rodden icing her bum shoulder and writing her next Petzl blog post
Beth Rodden icing shoulder and finger injuries while working on her next Petzl blog...

I started climbing a lot, and trying harder and harder, which brought me much enthusiasm and joy. I thought I was back to the point where I could push my body really hard again, but then I injured the A1 pulley of my left index finger. It’s a pretty odd pulley for climbers to injure, as it’s actually in the hand rather than the finger, but I managed to tweak it…and the two tendons in the finger, too. I guess my psyche was ahead of my body. I’ve preached about how I was going slow and taking my time with my recovery, to avoid hurting myself, and then I went ahead and hurt myself. I injured this pulley a while back, so hopefully it will heal up again. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty upset. I’ve been injured now for almost a year and a half, and I just want a healthy body. But, I’m doing everything I can to move that along.

The only climbs I’ve found that don’t aggravate my finger too much are hand cracks. Luckily, I live in Yosemite, so it’s pretty easy to find those! This injury marked the beginning of a quest to climb in Yosemite on things I had never done before. (If it isn’t on the Cookie Cliff or El Cap, I hadn’t climbed it.) With this, I realized that, aside from skipping a base, I had long missed out on some amazing climbing. I made another realization early on in this quest -- a very serious one…

Rodden toproping some moderate granite cracks
Rodden cruising some cracks on toprope.

One of the first cracks I climbed on my Yosemite quest was Central Pillar of Frenzy on Middle Cathedral. It was a Saturday, so my partner and I were rushing to beat the crowds. Surprisingly, when we arrived at 9 a.m., we were the first party. I took the first lead and found incredible climbing on polished granite, but just below the first anchors, my foot unexpectedly popped and I fell, flipping upside down in the corner and hit my head. It was without a doubt the worst lead fall I’ve ever taken. At first all I wanted to do was flip right side up. I didn’t really notice anything in particular that was hurt right off the bat, but I lowered to the ground only to find a bloody shoulder and elbow. ‘Crap, again! I wrenched my shoulder again!’ I thought. I was embarrassed, scared, and just wanted to get back to the car. We packed up and regrouped. After a bit of food we went on to crag somewhere else, but I was pretty shaken up.

A few days later I noticed that I couldn't concentrate on things properly and I felt a bit dizzy and nauseous. I started researching and thought I might have a concussion. I didn't think I hit my head that hard, but I don't really remember the fall, just that I had a lump on the front and back of my head. I called up my friend and ER doctor Noah Kauffman, and he thought the same thing. And so, 16 years after I started climbing, I learned a very valuable lesson on helmets.

Beth Rodden in her Petzl ELIA helmet
Lesson learned, Rodden sports her new Petzl ELIA helmet.

I never wore a helmet before, except when jugging on El Cap or climbing in the mountains, where I thought there was a danger of rock fall. But now I know I should wear one all the time. I don’t see many top climbers wearing them during everyday cragging; I know I never did, and neither did my ex-husband, Tommy Caldwell. I can understand not wearing one when attempting a redpoint, but now it seems so obvious to wear one most other times. I put stereotypes aside and that next day I got one of the new ELIA helmets and have been wearing it ever since.

Beth Rodden's Previous Blog Posts and Photos