What Happens When You Fuck Up REALLY Bad And Almost Die? You Get To Be On TV!

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.

40 Thoughts

  1. Jealous of Cri Boratenski for nearly killing himself on a route that I myself have climbed without incident? Or jealous of Aron Ralston (who this is still not about) for cutting his own arm off with a Swiss Army knife? Or maybe I'm jealous of the poor planning and/or skills that led each of those men into unfortunate but very much preventable situations?

    I'm not sure you know what “jealous” means.

  2. I stumbled across this after doing a search on Aron Ralston, after having just seen 127 Hours for the first time. I thought the movie was great. I was thoroughly familiar with the story, and I couldn't agree more that Aron had nobody to blame but himself. I have no idea why he didn't tell anyone where he was going; although I must admit I've made that stupid mistake a few times (but I do still have both arms). That said, I can't begrudge the guy for making a few coins off the story. I hope that during these $37k motivational speeches he's emphasizing how NOT to fuck up, rather than how to deal with things when you HAVE fucked up. Anyway, I stumbled across this blog, and whoever you are, you can write. I hope you are making some money with your writing somehow, because you have skills.

  3. That might be the best comment I've ever gotten. Thank you very much.

    As far as Aron (about whom this post continues to fail to address) goes, I agree that what he did was courageous. I'm not sure that I'd have the fortitude to do the same, though I like to think I would. I like to think also that I would never have gotten into that situation myself. I don't know what happened in real life, but in the movie (which was fantastic), he kicked the rock that he subsequently pulled on to himself. I can't imagine failing to test a rock to that degree. I don't always tell people where I'm going, but he comes off as reckless, and that's not something I can be sympathetic about.

    I again thank you for the compliment, and will admit that I'm TRYING to get ads an the site to earn a little extra, but it's not going well.

  4. I read your story and I think it was good. Funny too. About Aron Ralston, I heard about the guy but it was after 127 Hours that I started reading about him. I'm not going to say that he deserves every penny and you guys are douches. It was his own fault but I find it courageous that he cut his own arm off. I'm not sure if I would do it. I would maybe do it after I turned insane at one point. He got a lot of money with the movie/book/arm wrestling/speeches but I think he would give it all back for his arm (except if he's fucking rich lol). Anyway, keep up the writing cause its good. Also, Cri Boratenski really comes off as a douche. A cribaby, if you will xD

  5. Doesn't take a whole lot of courage to anonymously tell a bunch of strangers that they're assholes. Ralston and Boratenski would be the first to tell you that what happened to them was their fault, and the result of their own failures as conscientious outdoorsmen. I've been climbing and hiking for damn near twenty years and never even broken a bone, so to say that I know what I'm doing isn't cocky. It's a fact.

  6. No, but it does take quite a lot of courage to admit to a mistake. Ralston and Boratenski should not be slammed by bloggers because they have done so.

  7. This was more a mockery of the spectacle than the person, and the fact that he went along with it rather than just saying, “No. I made a really stupid mistake and I don't think I need to draw national attention to it.” I did specifically say that both men admitted their mistakes.

  8. You also said “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.”
    Thus you have created a paradox, Mr. Genius. It seems to be your opinion that Cri should not have talked about it, though you also ay that he should admit to it.

  9. ON NATIONAL TV is the distinction you're willfully—this has to be willful, right?—ignoring. When Cliffhanger came out, my dad had to hear from the ignorant populace that he was recklessly endangering his family's future by being such a daredevil, just because of the movie's wildly inaccurate portrayal of climbing. I am saying that these people should admit their mistakes because, like the Accidents In American Mountaineering book that's published every year, it's good instruction for other people. What is NOT helpful is when some jackass on Good Morning America reminds the housewives of the world, “Hey remember that thing you thought was dangerous? Turns out it's EXTRA DANGEROUS.” That's ignorant and irrational, and that's what I fight here.

  10. Though I do see validity in the point your making and respect your passion for climbing, I don't think you have to be so disrespectful of these two men to make it.
    As you have made it abundantly clear, you have never made such a big mistake while climbing, and you have never been in such a horrible situation. Though they made mistakes, the pain they both went through and especially the bravery of Ralston should be recognized, not made fun of.

  11. lol, could you be any more arrogant? You decide to dedicate a blog to ranting about “stupid people?” And among those “stupid people,” you include a man who has more balls than you ever will in your entire life? AND you give yourself the screen name of “Boy Genius??”


    But hey, maybe I should give you the benefit of the doubt. You're probably fifteen or something. One day, you'll grow up. I sure hope so.

  12. Listen, person-who-still-or-at-any-point-thought-“lol”-was-an-acceptable-form-of-human-discourse, there are a lot of stupid people in the world. And there are even more people who, though they may not be stupid, do really stupid things (like Cri Boratenski). Then there are people who may not be stupid, and may not be doing stupid things, but are still irrational and not thinking things through, like in the case of MotionPower or the Electrolux fridge concept or most of the concept cars that I've written about or astrology or homeopathy or PETA or all the religious stories and so on and so on.

    You'll notice that Aron Ralston does not fit in any of those categories, and also, if you actually READ THE 33 MOTHERFUCKING WORDS ABOUT ARON RALSTON THAT I WROTE HERE, that I don't criticize him for what he did, nor do I call him stupid. I call him a jackass for milking the accident for money, and I still stand by that, but I don't hold anything that happened against him. Accidents happen, and this one was slightly more preventable than most, but still.

    You'll also notice, or maybe you and the other mouth-breathing, observationally stunted troglodytes won't notice because you seem fundamentally incapable of actually reading the words in front of you, that THIS BLOG POST IS NOT ABOUT ARON RALSTON. Everyone was driven here by Googling his name, starting coincidentally right around the Academy Awards, which leads me to believe that most of you didn't have a fucking clue who he was until a very well-made movie with James Franco came out. Based solely on the information in that movie, you have decided that Ralston is a national hero and that anyone who criticizes him should be rabidly attacked.

    This thing happened nine years ago. The climbing community (myself included) heard about it nine years ago. The talking and discussion on the forums ended nine years ago. We all know, Ralston included, that what he did was incredibly brave, but was the unfortunate result of a somewhat reckless person getting himself into a mostly preventable situation. The only reason that people outside the climbing community (like you) even know about this is because he made a media spectacle about it. The book, the TV appearances, the $35,000 fee to speak, the movie, etc. That's what I don't like about him, which is what I EXPLICITLY SAID in the other 70 words I wrote about Ralston.

    I did not call him stupid. I did not call him a coward. Read the fucking words on the page.

    And by the way, person-who-also-thinks-“LMAO”-is-a-genuinely-incisive-rhetorical-device, your final paragraph is as pathetic as anything I've written about. I defy you to find a fifteen-year-old as articulate as I am.

  13. First I just wanted to say your writing is great and I am glad you are trying to explain how these things are yes indeed dangerous but with preparation and actually being smart about it, you dont have to go through what these other men have gone through with stupid small mistakes. Idk about you but I hate how the world tries to control and get rid of things because it is “dangerous”… EVERYTHING is potentially dangerous so instead of preaching about how dangerous it is lets teach people how to PREPARE for these activities if they choose to do them.

    But as for the other issues everyone seems to be having… The ONLY thing you said was that he is a jackass because of milking the situation. But imo the thing is… he gets that much because his story is worth that much to people, it is inspiring, it is a lesson to be smart and to prepare, and the best thing I see is that fact that he doesnt let the horrible event (although in many ways life altering in many good ways such as the money… but of course everything has pros and cons… no arm would really be tough) control him and make him live in fear. That is what I personal think is one of the most valuable things a person can learn to do. And as for the milking… So is anyone who writes a life story and wants to make money a jackass? Or someone that gives inspirational talks for money? Or someone that has a movie made of there story that has and will continue to inspire and make us all realize how lucky we are to be alive? Just some things to think about.

    Sorry if was a little long winded… I actually never post things online… in fact this is my first time like this (besides fb stuff) So ya, your writing is great definitely keep it up!

  14. Are you serious? This is neither good or responsible writing. Whoever wrote this post is overly self-assertive and likes to write mainly to himself. It isn't about Aron it's about you, it's all about you. Try and explain yourself better and then when people start to understand what you write you may win a Nobel. Jealousy is in fact a word that can be yoused to describe the first paragraph – and up until the end – but the type of jealousy that he/she would like to pick out, as in, choose to continue having both arms whithout having to face the lancinating and horrowing situations that Aron lived, getting away with the doe mainly. It's not a cut a arm to fame and glory condition, perhaps you have figured that out, you do still have your both arms don't you? Do not get crazy ideas watching the E channel otherwise you are the one who will have to conceal your face when you tell your story, or am I too late in trying to halt you? Look at the bright side, if so, you can write slower, therfore, thinking at the same time.

  15. I wish I could put this less bluntly, but what the fuck are you talking about? Are you trying to say that my jealousy comes in the form of choosing to keep both arms? Are you trying to say that I'll do something stupid because I saw it on E! and then have to conceal my face? Are you trying to say that “yousing” and “therfore” and “whithout” are real words, while at the same time criticizing the quality of MY writing?

    I got the email saying I had a new comment and came here ready to read it and defend it if necessary, but what you've somehow produced is honestly less coherent than almost anything I've ever encountered, so I can't even address it. Maybe you'd like to email me or comment again when the cough syrup fades off and the fog clears, but until then stick to making words with your mouth. Doing it with letters is clearly overreaching.

    Everyone does foolish things from time to time and to think that you are immune to such errors is the sort of arrogance that will land you in just such a predicament. Lynn Hill once forgot to tie her figure 8 into her harness and when she went to weight the rope she plummeted an identical 72 feet. But Lynn, who was the first person ever to free the nose of El Cap, probably just didn’t know what she was doing right? You mention that you have climbed the Designator without incident. So have I. I’ve probably climbed it half a dozen times in between the 100’s of other ice climbs I’ve done. Maybe you have a flawless safety record. If so, good for you, but you can still die tomorrow. Thinking that your incident free adventures to date preclude you from future incidents is juvenile and naive. It is the sort of thought, as a previous reader suggested, which might be concocted by a 15 year old.

    It is less the action than the outcome that judges a person. Had the anchor failed when I was 5 feet off the ground the world would have cared less even if the story was broadcast internationally. The error and the potential consequences were the same, but the lack of sensationalism would have thwarted vultures like you from picking away at the meaty story. Had the fall been 1000 feet and I had died, I probably would have made it into the Darwin Awards where only the dumbest of the dumb (as we’d like to think) live an eternal legacy of infamy.

    I actually don’t think that your intentions are entirely baleful. I think there is a part of you that feels that by belittling people like Aron and myself you can help preserve the reputation of the sports that could otherwise be blamed for the incident. That’s the one place that we are in agreement. I’ll bet that your family probably gives you crap all the time about the dangerous sports that you partake in and to preserve your own image of the sport and to find the courage to go back out there and climb you must belittle the others who were injured or killed doing the same thing that you’re about to do. You write off the incidents by saying “they were idiots, it’s not going to happen to me”…

    How do I know this? Because I was once like you.

    I climb almost as much today as I did before my accident but today I climb with a humbleness that will hopefully allow me to avoid such incidents in the future. I hope for your sake that you don’t have to rely on luck as I did to change your attitude.

    I purposely didn’t give a complete explanation of why the incident happened. I assume that you live in the Denver area, maybe it’s time that you looked me up and gave me a ring to get the full story. And, if you could muster the courage, I might even buy you a cup of coffee.

  17. Dear Cri,

    Why go on the news and make a big deal about it? Seriously, the guy who writes this blog has a family that loves climbing and he loves climbing, but they are also very responsible climbers and they take pride in that. Boy Genius enjoys being harsh with people because his readers enjoy it, but had you never made a spectacle of your mistake he wouldn't have either. I am happy that you are alive and that you are still with your family, but isn't that enough couldn't you just be happy with being alive, go home and call it a day. Get off the news, they don't know anything about climbing and they took your mistake to be some kind of inspirational get back on the horse kind of thing. You didn't go on the news to proclaim that climbers should be safer or maybe they should take time out to refresh their skills, so they don't end up like you. You had a great opportunity to make a statement or do something positive and instead you took your fifteen minutes of fame. You went on the news to scare people and that upsets the entire climbing community. People make mistakes and get hurt and you monopolized on a serious error. How can you tell me that one little blog is more arrogant, when you went on national television and made a big fuss? I also hate to break this to you, but the “it's not going to happen to me” mentality is not a passive thought for Boy Genius, he unlike you spends his time learning about climbing keeping his skills sharp reading about the safety on almost every climbing device out there (ish). He knows that the most dangerous part of a climbing route is the drive to the crag, not the climb itself. AWARENESS that is what we all need, not irrational fear, so no thanks for the fear and no thanks for the big ego.


    Wow, I’ve taken my share of harsh criticism but this definitely takes the cake. It was certainly good for a chuckle though.

    So… I’m the guy that took the 72 foot back dive off of the designator. I must commend you Boy Genius on taking the pitifully small amount of knowledge that you have on this incident and turning it into such a glorious and unabated rant. What I find most humorous is that you imply that I went on TV with the expectation that would be propelled to stardom. I went into it knowing full well that I would receive criticism, but I felt it was a story that needed to be told. Why? Because I was incensed by the fact that people reading the Denver Post article were ignorantly blaming the sport for the incident and I wanted to take the blame for what happened rather than let the sport take the fall.

    As an interviewee, you are largely at the mercy of the interviewer to get the full story across. In my discussions with the show’s writers I was allocated 20 seconds to describe what went wrong with the anchor. 20 seconds??? 95% of the GMA audience has never even seen climbing equipment before. How do you convey to an audience of millions of people who are completely ignorant to the sport what went wrong with the setup? You make it as easy as possible for the audience to grasp and simply state, “I chose the wrong material for my anchor”. I wasn’t sitting at the top of the ice fall saying to myself “hmm, I’m tired of using biners on these top rope anchor slings, I think I’ll just run the rope right through the slings and see what happens”. That would be very much akin to a “Nascar racer forgetting to turn left”.

  19. hey we are human ,everyone makes a mistake in life pro or not. you can do things time and time again on the safety side but one day you just might lapse. ok the guy fucked up but he dealt with it . The guy whining about ralston making a few bucks from it have you never made a mistake in life, get over your self mate, no one is perfect.

  20. Oh for FUCK'S sake, you near-criminally unintelligent waste of pluripotent stem cells. I have addressed this over and over, and I am sick and fucking tired of mouth-breathing, grammatically stunted philosophical wannabes like you spouting clichéd “life lessons” like you have anything useful to contribute. I'm going to take your comment one point at a time, “point” being a very loosely applied term for the intellectual sludge you've managed to scrape out of the empty barrel atop your shoulders.

    “hey we are human ,everyone makes a mistake in life pro or not.”
    I'm not even going to deal with your near-illiteracy because it would be an insult to my own intelligence to stoop to your level. As to everyone making mistakes, I KNOW THAT. That's why I acknowledged it more than one time.

    “you can do things time and time again on the safety side but one day you just might lapse.”
    Again I'm curious how a guy with such an inability to make words into sentences puts his pants on, but again your ability to point out the crashingly obvious is almost painful to behold. I KNOW that accidents happen, I've HAD them. I rolled my ankle and had to hike out five miles on it just three days ago. I forgot to bring a tent on a raft trip and had to sleep in the sand under an inflatable kayak in the rain for three days. Shit happens, and as you point out so poorly with “ok the guy fucked up but he dealt with it,” we move on. Most of us, however, don't fucking televise them.

    “The guy whining about ralston making a few bucks from it have you never made a mistake in life, get over your self mate, no one is perfect.”
    I swear to god it physically hurts my head to read the shit that you spew out, and I already have a hangover. You're like a fucking toddler, only less coherent and with a far more tenuous grasp on human interaction. EVERYONE has made mistakes, ONE MAN has turned his mistake into a fucking beer commercial. I have NEVER profited from an accident, not because I have any moral qualms about it but because it's deeply objectionable to glorify stupidity that way. Climbers talk about each other's mistakes, they learn from each other, and that's an end of it. There is no need to bring Meredith Palmer, delightful though she is, in on it.

    If you were a real person and not an anonymously posting little bitch, I'd ban you. I can't do that, but I can invite you to kindly shut the fuck up and drool on someone else.

  21. You need to calm down. Every comment that someone posts you bash for grammatical errors in order to belittle those that disagree with you. Suggesting that a man who uses sentence run-ons and neglects commas can't put on a pair of pants is a big fucking stretch, and arguments like this make you appear out of touch with reality. The name of your site, Unreasonably Dangerous Onion Rings, doesn't really lend itself to an academic audience, so you really shouldn't be expecting responses from the most prestigious online communities. The only reason I bring this up is because I like your article. I just don't like the way you deal with your readers. These guys posting are the people who support your site, so if your going to respond, you should try to push the debate further instead of resorting to grammar Nazism. And who cares if your debate was reignited by a recent popular film? It creates more exposure for your site and more ground to cover in this argument. That's a good thing.

  22. Holy. Shit. Boy Genius… I FUCKING LOVE YOU.

    Everything you say…It's so succulent and fills my belly with egregious laughter. holy. shit.

    I love watching the anonymii and the intellectually inadequates, bent out of shape, literally shoving their heads up their asses with their inane and outlandish claims, failing to realize their opening themselves up to a huge can of whoop-ass.

    that is all.

  23. yes, “boy genius,” you are, in fact, a cocky stuck up son of a bitch, and this blog is arrogant and pointless. stop wasting your time slamming the world's stupidity (which is blatantly apparent to even the most casual observer) and go get a life.

  24. Several things.

    First, insults from anonymous people on the internet are about as hurtful as, oh I don't know, being barked at by an angry puppy. You can tell it's mad, but really it's so adorable that you just want to pat its head and wait for it to fall asleep or be distracted by its own foot or something. I'm talking about you here, in case that wasn't obvious enough. You mean someone out there disagrees with me? HOW WILL I EVER SLEEP AGAIN?

    Second, this is not a waste of my time. I enjoy it, and my time isn't very valuable as it is currently summer vacation and I don't have a job, so why not knock back a couple beers and rattle off a few paragraphs that A) keep my writing skills sharp, B) entertain at least the 30,000 people a month that read what I have to say (unless they're all masochists), and C) piss off people like you, i.e. the exact people I make fun of. And we're back to the puppy metaphor.

    Third, it doesn't say much about the value of your time that you were able to find my arrogant and pointless blog (I'm not exactly bigtime), read it, become CONSUMED with spluttering anger over how arrogant and pointless it is, and then take the time to tell me that I'm wasting my time. Again, if it was a waste, I WOULDN'T DO IT. I am smarter than that.

    And fourth, I have a life. It is what I fill the time with when I'm not weeping over your hurtful words into a pint of ice cream.

    You have a nice day now.

  25. i regret and even resent having stumbled into such a pathetic display of exactly what's wrong with the world today… wont happen again

  26. Hahahaha. Best comments ever. I laughed so hard I peed on the angry puppy. (Don’t search for that image.)

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