Tits Up At Sunday Sport

© Chris Craggs
The Sunday Sport Wall at Horseshoe
It's June 14th as I write, the eve of my checkup at the Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital after breaking my jaw (though not the usual part of the jaw - not the lower bit) whilst lead climbing.

It has taken a couple of weeks to face writing this, and a glass or two of red, but I'm glad it's now happening. I want to bring attention to a bad habit I learnt from watching more experienced climbers. Please don't do it - it hurts!

The accident occured at Horseshoe Quarry, climbing at the Sunday Sport Area. It was May bank holiday and finally it had stopped raining. I was climbing with my brother and some mates. We all knew this quarry had its dangers and were taking notice of the BMC warnings of unstable rock and wearing helmets.

The accident was my fault. I was climbing something too difficult to begin with. I had made a couple of clips then began to struggle. I was determined to proceed. In short, I was moving between clips with the rope stored briefly in my mouth. Whilst reaching for the third clip I slipped and fell from the limestone, at the same time I bit down hard on the rope.

I broke my fall with my teeth and snapped my palate - the bone in the roof of the mouth. (Usually when people break their jaw - such as boxers - it's the lower part, with your chin; doctors call it the mandible.)

When I was lowered to the ground (thanks JW for top belaying), I could feel my upper teeth swinging in my mouth. I knew I was going straight to A&E and was upset with myself for my stupidity.

I was treated superbly by the Hallamshire. They X-rayed me, reset my palate and made me a gum shield to wear for three weeks. I'm now hoping that nature has done its thing and my teeth will survive - although they are a little crooked.

After the accident I considered the risks involved in the sport and whether I would climb again. It didn't last long. Today, I am keen to return, if only bouldering to start with. On the up side I have lost 10 lbs from eating nothing but soup, and I may even pull now. Just can't smile.

Just had my first meal for 3 weeks: stewing steak cooked by my brother, who took me to hospital and has always looked after me. Cheers Mate.

So, remember - no ropes in mouths. Apart from anything, you don't know where they've been.

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18 Sep, 2006
What's the crag in the side photo, Mick? I am guessing Owens River Gorge?
18 Sep, 2006
mmmmmphhhhh <clutching mouth> this is one of my worst fears. And it's so early in the morning. ouuuchheeee.
18 Sep, 2006
Don't think so... Mick
18 Sep, 2006
Damn. It's one of the gorge routes rather than main area, right?
18 Sep, 2006
Well that literally 'set my teeth on edge'. I'd always assumed that if anyone fell with the rope in their teeth, the first impulse would be to yell and therefore drop the rope. Obviously not!
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