We arrived back in Colorado as part of our greater plan to ditch the car, get bicycles and cycle south America climbing along the way, but first- its winter and winter needs climbing and skiing before we set off in a few months.

We took a day put to Silver Plume to get some ice climbing in. A nice easy start to our winter. A 5 minute walk in to the fall. A fall with 3-4 lines, single pitch (one rope length) and about 20-30meters in length of WI3 (water ice class 3) and a class 4 short scramble top the top on clean rock (maybe pushing low 5th class rock). With a couple of sets of bolts at the top to set anchors making it super safe for playing about.

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rappeling down the fall

We were both wheezing after coming back to altitude and having to put in physical effort but arriving here was worth it. It was Karli’s first time playing on ice and a cracking place to learn. The fall was South facing and getting the sun all day with temperatures going above freezing and the odd rock falling down the gully behind us, the belay ledge was nicely away from both the tumbling rocks and ice tumbling off the fall with swings of feet and ice axe, so we were content to play. The rock under the ice was baking and the odd kick of a crampon breaking off decent chunks that would cascade to the bottom like a broken chandelier.

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Karli taking off chunks of brittle ice

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After our day on ice we had a day off then decided on a days skiing. After a fun day of non stop runs straight down and back up we went for one last run. A nice easy line we had already done earlier.

Unfortunately this didn’t go to plan and near the top Karli took a fall right into some spiky rocks. She smashed into the first with her back, flipped, hit her front, flipped again into her back. This was bad, I hoped she was just bruised but she was in agony and couldn’t move. We signaled a skier to get help. A few minutes later the ski patrol arrived with a stretcher.  She was scooped up and wrapped up to protect her face from snow on the way down.

Arriving at the medical station at the bottom Karli couldn’t stop chattering and was in a lot of pain.  An ambulance was called and we were taken to hospital. The big relief was her spinal cord was in tact and undamaged. A CT scan revealed she had three transverse process fractures on her L1 to L3. These are the bony projections on the side of the spine that muscles attach to. The doctor told us its like a broken rib and only time can fix it. 4-6 weeks. Every time Karli moves the muscles pull on the fractures.  Thankfully not permanent damage but a very painfully recovery. Now we are having an easy few weeks of rest, lots of TV, and lots of learning about how pottery is made.

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