Last night while I stuffed my face with a double patty burger, I realized that I had become 50% more attractive. In the hour I spent hobbling from Goodwill for crutches, Walmart for an ankle brace and ibuprofen, and then into In N Out for a double-double, a half dozen women talked to me. While I can’t count past ten with my shoes on, those numbers were double what I’d experienced in the past week of Las Vegas climbing.
Yesterday started horribly. I woke to a text at 1 am. Food poisoning rocked my climbing partner and he couldn’t make it out. Bummed that he was sick and couldn’t climb, I texted my friends in Mesquite. They were heading to the Phalanx of Will. I jetted out there, cranking out the 90 miles as fast as I could, hoping to meet them at the campsite while they were still making coffee. They were already gone. I followed vague SummitPost.org directions to the crag and got lost. Frustrated, I steamed in my car.
I drove to the nearby Virgin River Gorge, where I knew there would be some climbers there. Brian, a Salt Lake climber hiked the steep limestone warm-up. I followed after him. Half way up, I jammed my right foot into a pod. The holds felt slick and I botched the sequence. I fell with my ankle still in the rock. It hurt.
“That looked bad,” Brian said when I lowered to the ground. I stormed up the route again, then once more, trying to shake off the pain welling in my foot.
Vian joined us, climbed the route then set up a toprope on another warm up for me. I followed it apprehensively.
“Maybe my ankle would be ok?” I thought. I jumared up a fixed minitraxion line and established a toprope on Fall of Man. I climbed the route tentatively, my baggy shoes felt tight and the climbing felt hard. My ankle swelled.
Vian tried a couple of pitches and I hung out to belay. The climbing had exacerbated the injury and I wouldn’t be back on the rock that day. I hobbled the 15 feet between my pack and the belay.
“You look really gimpy,” Vian said. “Let me tape your ankle.”
Vian grabbed a roll of athletic tape and made a few figure 8s on my ankle. I felt a lot better. It was very nice of her.
I struggled from the crag to my car. My ankle felt extremely swollen. It hurt a lot. I thought about crying but walked instead. I drove back to my friend’s house in Vegas.
I got crutches, wrapped my ankle, ate a burger and then slept for a long time. I thought about work, what I could do to become more productive and how to make the most of the experience.
A few years ago, when I fell soloing in Joshua Tree, my friend Greta made me a shirt with a picture of a walker on it. It said, “Walker’s are irresistible.” There’s a lot of truth to that. While I was recovering from the 8 surgeries, people seemed so much more interested in hearing my stories and talking with me. Maybe this evening, I’ll cruise by the Walmart McDonald’s. The ladies there probably have lots of love to give an injured man. My ankle will heal soon, especially if I take care of myself. The crutches aren’t quite my old walker but they’re certain to add a bit to my charm.
I'm suddenly irresistible.