Remember Aron Ralston? He’s the guy that had a rock fall on his arm, got stuck for almost a week, then literally broke his own fuckin’ arm off to escape. That’s super badass. The problem in my mind is that then he went on The Late Show, The Late Late Show, Dateline NBC, and one of Miller’s Man Laws ads. Also, he wrote a book that sells on Amazon and now makes up to 37 grand per speech as an inspirational speaker. To me, that made him kind of a jackass. It turns out he doesn’t really like all the attention, but there’s still the book deal. And now we have a sequel.
Two weeks ago, Cri Boratenski fell while lowering off the top of the Rigid Designator (Turgid Penetrator to locals), a 90-something foot icefall in Vail, CO. He fell 72 feet and landed flat on his back, then tumbled another 30 feet. He broke 9 vertebrae, his nose, and a rib, as well as lacerations on his face and a collapsed lung. Before you get all sympathetic or something, allow me to enlighten you as to how this happened. Cri was lowering on his rope, as one does. His rope, however, had been threaded through two nylon slings at the top of the route. As one does not. Seriously, one just fuckin’ does not. I’ve tested this personally, and it takes me 15 seconds to burn through a sling with a rope. That’s just pulling, too, about a fifth of body weight. This is the kind of mistake that NO ONE SHOULD EVER MAKE EVER. It is the most retarded thing you could do, especially if (like Cri) you have been climbing for 15 years. It is, in the words of one Rockclimbing.com forum poster, “like a NASCAR driver forgetting to turn left”. The worst of it all, though, is the fact that he went on Good Morning America to talk about his ordeal, sitting in his neck brace with the banner “Miracle on the Mountain” blazened across the bottom of the screen.
I will now give you a play-by-play of that interview, complete with screenshots (though you should still watch it yourself). It starts with a soundbite of his voice, played over a shot of an ice climber flopping around on the rope.
Now with more sepia!
Cri says, “I felt one little pop, and then a second later a second pop,” at which point the narrator jumps in dramatically with “that popping: the sound of his rope giving way.” Umm…no. It was not. Carry on though. The clip then cuts to the studio, where the interviewer (douche) stares straight at the camera and says, “LITERALLY UNIMAGINABLE”, just in case you were going to try to imagine it and didn’t know if you could.
“No, I can’t open my eyes. Because I’m trying to imagine it, dammit! Literally!”
They then go into the setup, where the interviewer decides that he is more qualified than the climber to explain to the audience what toproping is. Although in this case he might have a point. They talk about how he was feeding himself rope for safety as he scaled the sheerness of the sheer icy face (FYI, “sheer” and “scale” are never used to describe climbing by real climbers) and then the nylon gave way.
“Climbing: similar to milking a cow, is it not?”
This is supplemented by an excellent animation of a tiny red plastic man climbing something that is clearly not ice until his rope snaps and he falls to his tiny red plastic death.
Also not what climbing looks like
The whole time, Cri sits pathetically in his neck brace, making more and more pitiful faces as he realizes that eventually, he’s going to have to tell the douche that it was his fault and he’s a jackass. Pictured below are three faces symbolizing, from left to right, “I just want to laugh the memory away,” “See my wife here? She’s never letting me leave the house again” and, finally, “I wish I could jam
these two fingers through my eyes into my brain and swirl them around to make it all stop”.
The final icing on the suffering cake is when the interviewer walks him through the fall, saying that he landed on essentially (you guessed it) a “sheer rock face”. Cri waffles a bit here, saying that really it was more ice and snow, but they both agree that it was “not soft”. Wrong again. The only reason you’re alive is because it is soft. I’ve been up there, I’ve climbed the Designator, and it is most certainly soft. Not soft enough to keep you from fucking yourself up, but soft enough to save your life. If my friend Stephanie can break her back falling 25 feet onto rubber chips, you can bet your ass your 70-footer was fucking soft.
Finally, after getting emasculated by the douchey interviewer in front of his wife when he asks her (not him), “Is he going back on the icy face?”, Cri decides to set the record straight. “It wasn’t the sport that failed me,” he says. “it was my own dumb mistake. I made a stupid mistake, something I wouldn’t have done when I was 15.” That you did, Cri. And credit where credit’s due, he did make a point of saying it on national TV. But here’s the thing. If I had made the same mistake and taken a fall like this, my rope “coiling like a snake at my side” as the Denver Post so fittingly puts it, you could not pay me enough to talk about it on national TV. Maybe enough to be one of those blacked out heads behind the screen, but not to show my face. This is an error of abysmal proportions, and I would love to tell everyone to learn from his mistakes, but to be honest if you hadn’t learned that already, you’re beyond help. Sorry.