Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Injuries and Medical Advice

Fingers: Flappers

I recently cut off the tip of my left index finger with a plate joiner. I am a new ice climber. How will this affect my ability to climb? I am 27 years old.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers and Strength Training for Injury Prevention
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

I recently cut off the tip of my left index finger with a plate joiner. I am a new ice climber. How will this affect my ability to climb? I am 27 years old.

RUSSELL ICKES | Rock and Ice Forum

You, me and Tommy Caldwell — like peas in a pod! We should start a support group: Climbers who have stupidly cut off a bit of their finger.

I cut off the end of my index finger with a tomahawk. I would have had it stitched back on but Brandy, the pet dog, ate it before the first arterial squirt had hit the ground. That was in 1977; microsurgery meant it only needed one stitch. I guess there was not much left of yours. Presumably, Tommy could have had his stitched on but maybe he decided that such a handicap could not halt the momentum of victory.

Thanks for the photos. At least you won’t bite that fingernail for a while. The volume that appears gone now will fill in. Once it has healed, the scarred surface will likely be numb for some time. Given your age you may not ever get back full sensation.

In the first year or two it will be very sensitive to knocks and cold. Most ice climbers seem to feel an intractable and exquisite bond with everything uncomfortable so you may well enjoy the sport even more.

Certainly climbing is a no-no until the wound has healed. Chalk and dirt and the continual abrasion would cause more than a few healing hiccups. Healing may take several months. Once the surface has sealed with skin re-growth, start climbing on it tentatively, paying particular attention to discomfort and any tearing of the scar tissue.

Strength-wise you won’t be affected, outside of discomfort. I did mine at age seven and it has not adversely affected my climbing. Really, we can’t complain given Tommy’s performance since his altercation with a power saw.

RELATED ARTICLES

Arthritis

Blown Tendons

Cortisone and Tendon Injuries

Cracked Fingertips

Finger Cysts

Finger Cysts and Pain

De Quervains Tenosynovitis

Finger Electrostimulation

Grip Position and Injury

Hyper-Extended Finger

NSAID Treatment

Finger Numbness

Pinky Finger Pain

Finger Stiffness and Soreness

Finger Taping Truths

Torn A2 Finger Pulley

Torn A3 and A4 Finger Pulleys

Trigger Thumb Syndrome

Trigger Finger Syndrome