A Rock Climber’s Worst Nightmare – Part Two

Posted on in Adventure + Travel, Featured, Nature + Outdoors, Sports + Training by Rannveig Aamodt

I woke up in a bubble of light: I was confused, but had a vague idea what had happened. I remember Nathan holding my bloody head in his lap. I could hear myself screaming, and I remember drifting in and out of reality. When I was alive, I felt intense pain in my feet and back and legs. When I drifted, I barely screamed at all. This went on for several hours, throughout the rescue and until I arrived at the emergency room.

I woke up after surgery and looked down over my mummified body, and then, just barely, I was able to move my little toes. I heard a loud relief from Nathan and nurses in the room who had feared that I had been paralyzed.

I learned I had three compression fractures in my back. I had broken my pelvis, both my ankles, and many small foot bones. The ligaments in my ankles were stretched and torn and had ripped small pieces of bone off the bones they were attached to. My right elbow was broken into many small pieces and my triceps tendon was torn halfway off. I’d also smashed up my front teeth.

For days I laid there in a haze of pain and drugs, but some things I remember very clearly. One day a nurse came in after work with a home cooked meal of bone soup that was supposed to help heal fractures. She sat on the bed and fed me, and we felt so connected despite the language gap. Another day, I woke up super thirsty. Nathan grabbed a bottle from the back table thinking it was water. I took a huge gulp and suddenly began gasping for air, for it was actually disinfectant. I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I'm still here.

I was a healthy and strong athlete, and had spent the last few years climbing around the world, yet there I was, bound in by a body that didn’t work, and in tremendous pain. I couldn’t go to the bathroom alone, I couldn't wash myself, I couldn't even roll over. I’m right handed, so I couldn’t do much of anything with my left.

Even still, I had an enormous sense of gratitude that overshadowed everything. Every small thing that I normally would take for granted became a huge gift —to have my back scratched, to have my hair washed, just to lie on my stomach. It was like all the colors were slightly stronger and all emotions were more intense. I was taking a journey to my very core. 


Rannveig Aamodt

Rannveig is a professional rock climber, photographer and a certified yoga instructor. She has also spent many years in school studying alternative veterinary medicine. Rannveig splits her time between Colorado and the rest of the world traveling for rock climbing.Rannveig was born in Norway in 1984, with nomad blood, on a farm way out there. She grew up by mountains and loves the feeling of being a part of nature. She loves exposure and high places. Rannveig loves hiking into remote crags with a pack, feeling tired, watching how the light falls on the mountains throughout the days and with the seasons. When people ask her when she started climbing, she likes to quote a famous Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer - Arne Næss: “I just never stopped.” Her older brother brought her rock climbing some time in her early 20s. It looked like he was dancing up the walls, and Rannveig got totally fascinated at how it captured her mind. For most of the time when she's climbing the rest of the world just disappears. She's completely in the moment. And after years of climbing, that same feeling is what keeps her inspired to go climbing and working on projects. She feels like the more she gives and engages with climbing and the process of working a route, the more she gets back. Every new route teaches her something new about herself. It makes all her weaknesses and strengths stick out, and it makes it all too clear sometimes. She feels like climbing teaches her how to work with the elements, not fight against them. (although sometimes, sends her battles!) You can’t change the rock, you have to focus and engage on the next move.In 2016, Rannveig spent 4.5 months crossing the length of Norway. It was a 3,000km journey on cross country skis some years back.In April 2012, Rannveig broke her back, both ankles, pelvis, and her elbow in a 15m ground fall while rock climbing in Turkey. She was in a wheelchair for two months and had to re-learn how to walk, but through rigorous training and a lot of determination, Rannveig returned and was in the best shape of her life. She loves climbing and what it has given her, despite it almost killing her. Rannveig's immediate goals are to keep improving, keep traveling, and continue to have more fun than anybody else at the crag!


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