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





Good on you, Beth! I wish

Good on you, Beth! I wish more pro climbers would start wearing helmets and set a better example for the rest of us. Rockfall is all too common, and it's surprisingly easy to end up inverted during a big fall.

Hope you heal up quickly and completely.

Much respect


I respect your strength, tenacity, and patience with your recovery journey so much Beth. Keep healing! With regards to your choice to wear a helmet, I've chosen to wear a helmet for the last eight years (minus my recent summer redpoint of my hardest route- Chronic, 5.13b). I understand well, the consequences of wearing a helmet (i.e. teasing by my friends lol) and the consequences of not wearing a helmet, as I too have taken some bad falls, plus I work in a hospital as a nursing assistant. You continue to be an inspiration to me Beth, on the rocks and off.

God Bless,



I have always been perplexed with the fact that most climbers don't wear helmets. A non-climber, but active mtn biker, whitewater kayaker, and skier helmets are a mandatory part of my gear list. The sport needs high profile climbers like Beth advocating the use of helmets. Thanks Beth and speedy recovery, Frank Meyer

Helmets and best wishes

Best wishes for speedy healing, Beth. Congrats on posting about your newly found appreciation of climbing helmets. I wear one all the time at the crag, even top roping and belaying and urge my climbing students, partners at the crag and friends in the sport to do the same. I am amused by my nick name "safety officer" given to me by my climbing partners -- hey, this is one sport where being safe doesn't seem to brand you as a nerd or a worrier as much as it seems to earn you friends, eager climbing partners and general respect. I can concentrate on climbing well and supporting my climbing partner with the best safe practices I know if I do simple things like wear my helmet.

Thanks for your example! Get well soon

Road to recovery


I, too, am recovering from several injuries. A year ago, I had a motorcycle accident and tore the ligaments in my right thumb. I had to go under the knife, and the surgeon screwed the ligament back to the bone with a permanent screw. I couldn't hold a pencil, let alone thinking of pinching anything. To top it of, as a result of the surgery, my thumb has a slight inward rotation, and so holding things was a bit awkward.
Being used to high activity levels in the outdoors, yet unable to climb, I started to ski more and more. I thought to myself "at least I'm still enjoying the mountains." But favoring one imb over the other is not conducive to avoiding injury when falling. I fell, and because I was trying to protect the injured hand, I fell badly and sprained my achromio-clevicle. To make a long story short, I kept compounding injuries because of my refusal to accept my body was in a fragile state. However, going through my physical exercises daily, warming up thoroughly before attempting top performance, stretching and cooling off enabled me to come back as strong as ever.
Keeping my head up, listening to my body and taking my time really gave me a second chance at my passion - climbing. I'm sure it'll work for you - there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
Well wishes for a timely (!) recovery,

Good luck for your recovery!

Good luck for your recovery! I really like the shoulder exercise videos you posted on youtube. My boyfriend (and up until this year, regular climbing partner) couldn't climb for 8 months this past year due to shoulder injury and eventually also had surgery when PT failed to make an improvement (impingement syndrome). I have since become more vigilent in trying to prevent a shoulder injury via rotater cuff strengthening exercises. Hopefully this stuff will help!
Hope your head/hand/shoulder all heal quickly!

Same boat and it sucks

Standing in line at a sports store to get tickets for a concert, and there is a poster of you, which reminded me of your recent(ish) injury.... Good to see there is a road to recovery there! I recently had a labral tear in my shoulder and have been on the road to recovery since, though slowly... Recently for me means a year and a month now.... Trusting in the Canadian health system... Anyhow reading about the same experience I'm going through by someone else is.encouraging despite the obstacles you mention. Hope your recovery is soon complete, and I hope the same for me : D

Awesome post .

Best wishes for speedy healing, Beth. Congrats on posting about your newly found appreciation of climbing helmets. I wear one all the time at the crag, even top roping and belaying and urge my climbing students, partners at the crag and friends in the sport to do the same.

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