Broken Nose on Chia
February, 1995

In the winter of 94/95 I couldn't find a climbing partner so not to waste the season I reached deep into my pockets and hired a guide from EMS. I arrived in New Hampshire determined to climb just before a major winter storm hit. Some would say it's foolish to let your wallet force you into something but here I was glad of it. I can't say it's fun to stand freezing in a belay with snow piling up around your ankles or to have it pour down your neck every time you look up to check your partner's progress. I can't say it's fun but that's what we had on Chia, the climb in the picture above. snowy climb
I don't love pain and danger and I particularly didn't like what happened the next day on a climb called Pegasus. The snow had stopped, the temperature had plunged and I was struggling against the cold when it came time to head up the main pillar. About two-thirds of the way up a really freaky thing occurred. My forearm strength was shot so while I shook out one arm I relaxed my grip on the other tool letting the leash and my wrist take most of my weight. I guess I relaxed too much because the next thing I know I slipped completely out of my glove and ice tool. After the resulting fall I looked up to see them still hanging in the ice 15 feet above. Then the realization hit that I was hanging there with only one tool (no spare) and a bare hand. I nearly panicked before I remembered the thin polypro glove liners I always keep in my parka pocket. With adrenaline flowing I set out again with one hand minimally protected against the -5 degree temperature and only one tool. When I reached my orphaned ice tool I lunged for it and managed to get a couple of fingers in the glove and through the leash. In desperation I also grabbed it with my teeth and struggled to get my hand fully in it. While this was going on the tool's pick placement in the ice wore away and again I found myself dangling. This time I was literally jubilant to look down at my hand to see my ice tool still there and my glove fully on. With renewed strength I charged to the top only to find that when it popped out, my tool had struck me square on the nose breaking it and bringing a fairly decent flow of blood.
bloody nose I took this self-portrait on top where I was particularly struck (still am) with how bright red blood appears set against snow in really cold temperatures...

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Proud to be an American!
Mack Muir