There wasn't any screaming. Strangely, there weren't even any gasps. Just a thick, encompassing silence.

And of course there was that freaky slow motion effect that I've only experienced twice before. (The first time was when I was in a car accident with my Uncle Danny and our car made a couple of 360s. The second time was when I flipped my motorcycle over the hood of a car that was making an illegal U-turn.)

So anyway, the first thing I can remember was looking over my shoulder to guestimate the path of my fall, I also remember knowing that I had warned Soy below that she should get ready to lock the boulier (the mechanical gear which one uses to prevent a fall "all" the way down).

And then I think I remember pushing outwards away from the face of the cliff in order to miss a large, jagged outcropping about 7 feet further down.

[Lead climbing is a term used to describe the first climb of the day. Typically, the lead climber will go up the route in order to attach the ropes to the top point of the climb. Because the fulcrum point of this pulley system is always above the climber, climbers can be sure that when they fall, they will be instantly caught by their partner attached to the other end of the rope on the boulier below. The problem with the lead climb, of course, is that you have not yet set the top fulcrum of the pulley system. So there is nothing above to catch your fall. Of course, you are not "solo climbing". There is some protection for a lead climber. As you climb, you thread your rope through bolts in the cliff or through bits of "natural protection" (bolts that you jam into cracks when you find them). Once you have attached your rope to such a secure location, you are assured that your fall is constrained. The problem is that once you begin climbing up from a bolt, you do not simply fall back to the level of the bolt but twice that distance since the bolt beneath you becomes the top of the fulcrum. Thus, if bolts are 15 feet apart and you fall, having only climbed 8 of the 15 feet, you actually fall 16 feet! I explain this to you now in such detail because somehow the physics of the whole thing had shot right by me until it was a bit too late.]

So there I was watching the rocks whiz by me, but whiz by at a snail's pace, until at about 6 feet down, as I prepared to be caught by the boulier system, the whole physics thing hit me and I realized that I was actually just beginning this rollercoaster ride.

At the same time I also realized that just as vertical height actually equaled 2 times fall distance, horizontal distance climbed right meant an equal and opposite swing left.

By the time I calculated the result of the vectors and forces acting upon this particularly helpless falling body was about the same time I smashed side first into the rocks (you see, I never did get a respectable grade in Physics).

And then I remember saying something particularly profound like "ow" and I was dangling in my harness swinging back and forth with a great deal of tough climbing to repeat. I may have been upside down too, but it is all kinda hazy at this point.

The impact was far worse the next day but the deep and gross-looking rope burns were not so fun. Unfortunately, I'd grabbed the rope for about a foot during the fall like an idiot, and let go after the smell of burning flesh reached my nose.

Ego bruised worse than body, I completed the climb, set the ropes and came back down. My lesson. Go ahead and take the easier route on the lead climb, even if it is not as fun. Don't climb too far between safety bolts. Don't grab the rope.

Fortunately, I have not needed to do too much typing this week since I am teaching for my second week and can pretty much keep my hands away from everything. All else is well..

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