Chalking up

A friend sent me the link to a video of some high, high bouldering—two climbers on a lip of limestone 60 feet above the Mediterranean. When they miss a move and launch off the rock, it’s a long way down. During many falls, a climber has just a moment to contemplate what’s happening. Often, by the time you realize you’re really, actually falling, you’re already back to the end of the rope or, if bouldering, on the ground. On a long fall, however, you have time to think, “Ack! Falling! ... Hunh, still falling … Wow, I was way up there, huh?” before reaching the end—which one always hopes is a gentle one.

In his Better Bouldering, John Sherman recounts his many injuries sustained while bouldering. Among them are bone-deep lacerations, torn tendons, broken wrists, concussions, and a curly 80s mullet. Watching the climbers in some other films (try the trailers for “Dosage vol. 1” and “Front Range Freaks” for some exemplary moments), you get a pretty good understanding for how some of those injuries take place.