Broken Leg Update: Ready to Jump (again)

Nina Patterson my physical therapist, has been a crucial part of my “progress” plan for many months. Usually, I limped into her office with a short list of areas with too much “feedback.” Sometimes, she simply said “Alan, your injury is severe and you need to be patient.” And others “You need to push to make progress.” But she always worked on realigning muscles, ligaments and other adjustments that solved the issue, proof being the areas became silent and remain that way today.

This week, I walked in and said “Nina, I got nothing.” She smiled knowing that in the past 10 days I had hiked in deep snow to 13,000 feet and ice climbed only the day before. “Well, we will find something!” And we both laughed.

As I have said often, my team of doctors, PT expert, family and friends have been the key to moving forward. Today, Diane , said “Hey, you are not limping.”

There were three phases to this incident: injury healing, fitness recovery and mental recovery. I finally feel that my injury has healed. I no longer have the constant low-level reminder that something is not right down there. I walk “feedback” free and Capitan Rod has assumed his life-long duty with dignity and grace.

Now I will focus on the remaining areas. During my downtime, I gained a bit of weight, OK a bit too much. So its time to focus on diet and exercise. This has never been a problem with climbing or hiking a couple of times a week so I’m looking forward to getting back into that groove.

The mental side may take more work. A couple of weeks ago, I was on top of the small local rock, Horsetooth, with Moe Kowbell. The wind picked up to 20 mph with an occasional gust. I crouched down like a rabbit hiding from birds of prey. While high up on a frozen waterfall this week, my mind drifted to falling – something I never had an issue with. I retreated, realizing I had work to do.

I once had a fear of heights, so I addressed it head-on in 1995 by bungy jumping off the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge at AJ Hacket’s pioneering location. I was in New Zealand “tramping” around and visited the bridge. I watched people jump all afternoon wondering if I had the courage to do it.

I left for a couple of weeks of backpacking on the Greenstone and Caples Tracks, visualizing me waddling to the end of the plank, ankles wrapped in a towel with a huge rubber band binding me to the bridge. My heart raced, and palms becoming drenched with sweat. I visualized this over and over until my physical response came under control. When the time came I heard “OK, Alan. Ready? 3,2,1 ….” and I jumped.

It’s time to jump again.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything


Twin Sisters Fall

On February 10, 2017 while training for the 8000 meter peak, Dhaulagiri, a sudden wind gust estimated near 100 mph swept me off my feet and into a talus field on a simple walk up mountain of Twin Sisters Peak, 11,4327′, in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado.

I described the entire incident in my post Broken Leg: I don’t want to be in the Rocks.

When I was slammed into the rocks near 11,000 feet that Friday afternoon, my lower right leg was broken in multiple places.

The tiba had an angular fracture and the fibula was also broken.  My left leg had a puncture wound. My nasal cavity was broken as well. The injuries required two operations under full anesthesia and a five day stay in the hospital.

Jim Davidson was with me that day and called 911 who in turn set a rescue in motion with Rangers from Rocky Mountain National Park, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group and Larimer County Search and Rescue.

Jim cared for me over four hours as I lie in the rocks and it took another five hours for SARs to evacuate me off the mountain.

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10 thoughts on “Broken Leg Update: Ready to Jump (again)

  1. Thanks for all the inspiration Alan. I am 4 weeks in with broken Tibia x2 top and shin and top of Fibia with rod with the same operation and hardware as yourself. I am still nwb and waiting for 5.5 week X-rays to be given the go ahead. Started with a personal trainer today for upper body and strength. I have been a runner for years and have run some marathons and big trails but never been super strong and heathy and really just taking my abilities for granted. I have had a huge change in mindset after this incident and I am so blessed to have supportive and positive friends and family behind me. Thank you for your inspirational story of your journey and progress.
    I will run a trail again and be healthier and stronger than ever before. I can and will do this! We don’t have huge mountains here in South Africa so will set myself a Table Mountain goal for 1 year from now!

    1. Hang in there Elsje. We have/had a tough injury and it takes time for the bone and tissue to heal. Great that you are surrounding yourself with positive people – it makes a huge difference. Also, don’t be afraid to “stress” the leg – that will make it heal faster – but be smart and follow your Doc and PT’s instructions. Best of luck.

  2. So glad about it <3 I broke my tibia and fibula three weeks ago and your story made me a lot more motivated. I've been focusing on the things I CAN do right now so this way I won't feel so sad about not being outdoors. Unfortunately there are many people trying to put me down and pointing the things I cannot do but I prefer remaining positive 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Leg breaks a re tough, to be sure. But be patient, do the rehab and yes, stay positive. It’s all about making choices. I choose to surround myself with positive people and keep. distance from the nay sayers. Actually good for anytime in life. Best of luck Larissa and let me know if I can help.

  3. Really pleased you are on the mend and keep up with the posts…I love them!!


  4. Great news to hear that you are no longer in pain. Many thanks for all your efforts writing about adventures in the mountains.

  5. This update is SUCH good news! So happy for you. I know it has been a humbling experience for you, but I’m sure you have taken away many new “insights” about your self and life in general. Thank you for sharing your writing talent, your adventures, and the adventures of others with us! I come to Colorado every summer and would love to meet you one day.

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