American Mountain Guides Association

Opposable thumbs

I am in the middle of my New Hampshire ice climbing stint and the conditions have been amazing. There was a rain event that happened a week before I got up here and then it froze again. This made many of the climbs super fat!


I was psyched when I got up here with all the fat ice but at the end of day one of guiding I was behind my van and slipped in the parking lot on the ice sheet that covered everything. After a second of airtime I hit really hard; laid there for a second, then noticed a weird feeling in my thumb. As I looked at it I knew it was not gonna just take a band aide. I was holding crampons and one of the points had sliced through down to the bone.


I was able to get it stitched up and it was not to bad to climb with but manipulating carabiners and gear was hard with my right hand. So I tried to keep most of that work to my left hand. It is interesting the things you notice with a bad thumb. The climb Repentance is mostly left handed placements and there is one hand jam that also happens to be a left hand.


I ended up only ripping out 2 of the stitches over the last 7 days. So it is healing fairly well all things considered.


Through all this I have learned opposable thumbs are pretty key to our climbing ability!


All photos by Austin Schmitz

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