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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.

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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.

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