Cole and Peter’s Route

Jun 11th 2012 — Climbing,Mill Creek,Montana — 11:32 pm

I am exhausted and I need to pack but all I want to do is think about the climb we did today. My friends Cole and Peter put it up a while back. Destined to be a classic.

More info on climb found here.

*** Edit: I took a 40+ foot fall on this route ***

While leading the 4th pitch I climbed past an orange TCU to a good rest and thought about putting another piece in. The climbing was in a finger crack where you could pretty much protect wherever you wanted to.

I could see another good stance after a few more moves and thought I would be able to make it and so I just kept climbing, a mistake I hope never to repeat.

The next moves involved liebacking on an edge that was less positive than it looked from below, a bit of lichen, some bad footwork by me, and a bush.

I remember thinking “I really need to get my feet higher” and I popped off without warning. The TCU was in a flaring crack and came out with what felt like zero resistance. My next piece was a #3 camalot 8-10′ below the TCU which held.

While falling I had time for a bit of swearing and a thought similar to “Why haven’t I stopped yet?” The climbing was vertical enough that the fall was clean, which was extremely nice.

While driving to Mill Creek in the morning I remember talking with Conor about the idea that if you end up with a marginal piece of protection in you definitely need to be mindful that it is marginal. After I put that TCU in, for whatever reason, I didn’t give it another thought.

I could tell after I fell I had done something to my hand, but it didn’t seem that bad at the time and I finished the pitch.

The next day it was swollen and I thought I might have hit it on something and broken it. A week afterwards it was still a bit swollen (not discolored at all) and sore and I decided to get it x-rayed. Fortunately, nothing was broken.

From when I can gather I tweaked to my A1 pulley and maybe A2 as well in my pointer finger.

At the hospital they said I had ‘trigger finger’ caused by repetitive motion, but I know it happened when I fell.

From this article

Imaging is used to grade pulley injuries on a scale developed by Schoffl et al.4 Grade 1 injuries are pulley strain with no bowstringing. Grade 2 injuries include complete A4 pulley rupture or partial rupture of A2 or A3, while grade 3 lesions involve complete ruptures of the latter. Multiple ruptures or single ruptures combined with lumbrical or collateral ligament trauma are grade 4 lesions.

Injuries graded 1 through 3 are initially treated conservatively, while grade 4 lesions are treated surgically.

Conservative management consists of rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. No evidence-based guidelines exist as to how long climbing should be avoided, but generally the prognosis for these injuries is excellent. In fact, conservative treatment has been shown to result in no long-term strength deficit and a return to normal climbing levels within one year, even in cases of complete single pulley ruptures.



  1. Mike, your pictures (of all your climbing galleries, not just this one) are great!! I definitely want to do more trad climbing this Fall. meanwhile, have a great summer!

    Comment by Claudine — June 14, 2012 @ 11:42 am
  2. Thank you Claudine! You always have such nice things to say! I wish you a speedy recovery with your shoulder!

    Comment by michael — June 15, 2012 @ 7:55 am

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